Jerry Coleman, Yankees Infielder and Padres Broadcaster, Dies at 89

The Wayward Word Press notes with sadness the recent death of Jerry Coleman, a Hall-of-Fame baseball broadcaster.

Though I hadn’t heard his voice for almost two decades, I was immediately able to recall it, and how much pleasure I enjoyed over the years listening to it, on the CBS Baseball Game of the Week.

That made me realize this is the true test of a great baseball broadcaster — if you can recall their voice, and smile when you do so.

Only a handful of announcers I have followed over the years, mainly as a New York Mets fan, pass this test:

The Times’s obituary says in part:

As a Marine pilot, he flew in the Pacific during World War II and was recalled to fly during the Korean conflict, becoming the only major league player to survive combat in both wars.

And as a broadcaster for the Padres since 1972, he was known to get lost in the clouds of the English language as he never did in the cockpit.

He once blurted: “Winfield goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It’s rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres.”

And then there was this: “On the mound is Randy Jones, the left-hander with the Karl Marx hairdo.”

Coleman acknowledged that there was a “term that’s associated with me — ‘Colemanisms,’ or what you might call flubs,” he said in “An American Journey: My Life On the Field, In the Air, and On the Air,” a memoir written with Richard Goldstein and published in 2008.

“Maybe I talk too quickly, too soon,” he added. “I may have said the one on Winfield. ‘Winfield goes back. He hit his head against the wall. It’s rolling toward the infield.’ I meant the ball, of course. I just didn’t get around to saying, ‘It wasn’t his head rolling toward the infield.’ I skip a word here and there.”

But he could be entirely clear when he had something to say on an issue. After baseball began to acknowledge the enlarged physiques of some players and their ballooning home run totals, in 2005, Coleman spoke out in favor of strong penalties for abuse of steroids. “If I’m emperor, the first time, 50 games; the second time, 100 games, and the third strike, you’re out,” he said.

Major League Baseball adopted that penalty structure by the end of the year.

Though I didn’t recall his getting lost in the clouds, that passage brought a smile to my face, especially noting the miraculous recovery of Dave Winfield after losing his head.

See also Jerry Coleman Quotes and Legends Of The Err Waves: Jerry Coleman and Ralph Kiner give their listeners tongues of fun by William Taaffe

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Unix SPITBOL 13.05 Released, With Support for Unicode

The SPITBOL project is pleased to announce that Unix SPITBOL 13.05 is now available.

It can be downloaded from

This release includes versions of SPITBOL for both ASCII (8-bit characters) and Unicode (32-bit characters).

The Unicode version of SPITBOL (uspitbol) uses 32-bit characters internally. Character strings are converted from UTF-8 encoding to 32-bit characters when input from the command line, the operating system environment, a pipe, or a file opened in line mode. Character strings are converted from 32-bit characters to 8-bit characters in UTF-8 format when written to a file opened in line mode, a pipe, or when passed as an argument to an operating system procedure.

Program source files, which are read by SPITBOL in line mode, may thus contain UTF-8 format Unicode characters in strings and comments. Identifiers are still restricted to ASCII.

Unix SPITBOL 13.01 Released

The SPITBOL Project is pleased to announce that Unix SPITBOL 13.01 is available.

It can be downloaded from Github: HARDBOL/SPITBOL:

13.01 tar.gz

13.01 zip

This release supports floating-point arithmetic and save files. Load modules and the loading of external functions are still not supported.

SPITBOL Update: SPITBOL X86-64 can compile “hello world”

The SPITBOL project is pleased to announce some progress in porting MACRO SPITBOL to x86-64 Linux. (I use MINT, so this should also work on straight Ubuntu.)

This version is able to compile such simple programs as “hello world” but is not yet able to compile itself.

It can be found at

It has the git tag “x86-64-hello-world” and there is a file with this tag in the Downloads section.

Reaching this milestone has been a long slog, albeit an interesting project in relearning X86 assembly language and coding in SPITBOL.

The translator consists of about 3000 lines of SPITBOL code. LEX.SPT consists of about 1000 lines. It produces a file of lexemes which are fed to ASM.SPIT, which consists of about 2000 lines of code. ASM generates assembly code suitable for input to the NASM assembler.

The hard part was to configure ASM.SPT so it can generate code for X86-32 or X86-64.

To try out the system, do

$ make clean;make
$ ./spitbol test/hello.spt

To see the program in action, set Z_TRACE to 1 at the start of ASM.SPT. Then try

$ ./spitbol test/hello.spt >& ad
$ make z

This will produce a *large* file “ae” with an instruction-by-instruction trace of the MINIMAL code, showing the hardware instructions executed and a report of differential changes at the machine register level.

One of the more challenging — and fun — parts of this exercise in porting has been to produce that trace. I found available debuggers, such as GDB and its graphical front-end DDD, of little use in dealing with assembly language, and so had to write my own debugging trace tool.

I’ll keep you posted on further developments.


SPITBOL Status Report

Early this summer I started work on what I thought would be a modest change: convert SPITBOL from using the GNU GAS assembler to my favorite X86 assembler, NASM. I also wanted to do some code cleanup as part of this.

Alas! What I thought would take a few weeks took a few months.

I make no excuses. The fault was mine, and I knew it was my job to fix it.

I also soon realized that while it would take longer, the work was needed, as I hadn’t worked on SPITBOL in almost three decades, and my programming skills, especially in X86 assembler were — to say the least — quite rusty.

I had forgotten almost all — which really wasn’t that much — of SPITBOL structures and internals, so it was necessary to reacquire that knowledge — even if I had to do it the hard way.

The process was complicated by the poor support for assembly language programming provided by Linux. I knew about GDB and its visual front-end, DDD. However, I found them sorely lacking, probably because SPITBOL as I found it intermixed data and code in the code section, and this was enough to cause problems using these tools.

As a result, I implemented a variety of instruction-level traces to try to find out what was happening. That itself was an interesting experience, one that made me appreciate even more the power of SPITBOL when it comes to doing this sort of thing.

I plan to write more about this in a future post, but the immediate porting concerns must be addressed first.

The current status is as follows.

The code now available at Hardbol SPITBOL contains a directory b32 with a bootstrap compiler. This is a 32-bit word, 8-bit character SPITBOL using only TCC as the C compiler, MUSL as the library, and NASM as the assembler. The system is thus self-contained in that does not rely on gcc/gnu code.

It doesn’t support floating point.

The OSINT procedures have been cleaned up in that all mention of obsolete systems such as Windows NT, SOLARIS, and MAC (pre OSX) have been omitted.

Going forth, SPITOBL will support only one operating system — Unix.

I have started work on the port for Linux 64-bit word, 8-bit characters. I expect that won’t take too long, but given my track record, we will see…

Once I have that, I’ll try port to OSX. TCC and MUSL support OSX. If that goes well, I’ll put it out. If I run into too many problems, I’ll back off and just do the next — and key — port, for 64-bit words and 32-bit characters, as that is needed for full UNICODE support.

I’ll keep you posted.

SPITBOL License now ‘GPL V2 or later’

I have updated the license for MACRO SPITBOL from ‘GPL v3 or later’ to ‘GPL v2 or later’.

This was motivated by a conversation with Rob Landley, who first made me aware that that GPLv2 and GPLv3 are not compatible.

An explanation of why this is so can be found in the following post by Richard Stallman, Why Upgrade to GPL Version 3.

The result of this modest — indeed only the change from ’3′ to ’2′ in the license version — is that people wishing to use SPITBOL can now incorporate it in code licensed under any of the following combinations:

  • GPL v2
  • GPL v2 or later
  • GPL v3
  • GPL v3 or later

Contributions will only be accepted under the new terms — gplv2 or later — to give those who choose to use the code more freedom in their choice of license.

How to Write SPITBOL in Cyrillic (Russian)

I just noted use of a a search phrase that resulted in reaching this blog:

бои спитболи

The second word is SPITBOL in Cyrillic (the Russian alphabet).

Ochen Xorosho (Very good).


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