Even the most avid baseball fan has probably never heard of Myles Thomas, a little-used pitcher for the New York Yankees and Washington Senators nearly 90 years ago. But Thomas, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the entire 1927 season are about to come back to life in a unique multi-platform project by Douglas Alden ’88.
“1927: The Diary of Myles Thomas,” starts April 13 and will continue daily — often several times a day — until October at ESPN.com and various social media outlets. The real Thomas, who died in 1963, never wrote a diary that we know of, but Alden will write for him, covering the historic season as well as the events of that long-ago summer.
1927 was an eventful year, and not just for the Yankees. Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, Louis Armstrong was making landmark recordings, Prohibition was in force, and Al Capone was consolidating his criminal empire.
In addition to three weekly diary entries, the site will include original newspaper accounts for each Yankee game that season. Just like their modern counterparts, Thomas and other contemporary figures, ranging from players such as Moe Berg ’23 (a catcher with the White Sox that year) to entertainers such as Al Jolson, will also have Twitter accounts. More than 4,000 tweets will be posted meticulously on the day, and often at the hour, when the events they are describing would have happened. Baseball historians will contribute supplemental essays about the season, as well as film and audio files.
1927 was an eventful year, and not just for the Yankees who won the World Series and fielded what is widely regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time. It was the peak of the Jazz Age: Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, Louis Armstrong was making landmark recordings, Prohibition was in force, and Al Capone was consolidating his criminal empire.
Alden describes “1927” as an entirely new genre — real-time historical fiction — and says he scrupulously followed rules to made his Zelig-like Thomas an eyewitness to history. On April 12, 1927, for example, the Sherry Netherland Hotel caught fire while under construction; we don’t know if Thomas actually saw the blaze, but the Yankees were home that week so he could have, and Alden places him at the scene.
It has been a long and arduous research project for the three-time Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and director, who has worked for ESPN, NBC, and ABC, and written for GQ and Fortune, among other publications. He says he hopes the project will educate the fans and non-fans alike and spur them to learn more.
“One of our goals,” he explains, “is to get people to say, not ‘I didn’t know that,’ but ‘Why didn’t I know that?’”