In writing about Larry Friedman and what he has meant to me, I feel bereft and behind the curve. Unlike other colleagues who can write about decades of friendship and scholarship, I have just a few years. Still, I know this short time has shown me so much of what Larry, and knowing Larry, is about.

My first encounter with Larry was in 2015 when he presented “Why We Hate” to the Psychohistory Forum. I was instantly impressed and filled with admiration. Awed. He was so human, so down to earth, which made his rich material so accessible. As I often do in the presence of a great researcher and academic, I felt comparatively unaccomplished.

Still, when Ted Cox approached me and said, “several of us are going out to dinner, would you like to join us?” I said yes. Then I discovered there were just four of us, including Hannah Turken, and that Larry was seated across the table from me. I wasn’t going to be able to hide and just be an observer.

There was absolutely nothing to hide from. While Larry talked about people I didn’t know and events I hadn’t witnessed, the conversation was fascinating. Then, he started talking about baseball, and more to the point, the Toledo Mud Hens.

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I am a huge baseball fan, an unapologetic Yankees fan. I love the game and the fact that anyone can have their moment in the sun even as they are part of a team. Yet Larry wasn’t just talking about baseball—he described the summer he spent pitching for the Mud Hens, a minor league team in the Cleveland organization. The 18-year-old Larry had a terrible record, winning two games versus double-digit losses. He gave up at the end of the summer and went to the University of California, starting on the path that brought him to all of us.

I know I came alive at that point and found Larry and I had an instant bond. It was lovely.

A side trip that matters to this story: In 1990 I made a business trip to Toledo, and at the airport found a mug imprinted with the Mud Hens’ logo. I bought it as a gift, the very first gift, for the man I had begun dating two months earlier and who I would eventually marry. Marty loved the mug, and it always had a special place in my heart. After Marty passed away in 2000, I often wondered what to do with the mug.

The answer came at dinner. I told Larry about the mug and the story behind it and asked him if he would like it. Of course, he did. I mailed it to him soon after, and he sent a handwritten thank you, telling me that it was his favorite mug now—and that Noam Chomsky tried to steal it when he came over for dinner. But Larry prevailed.

Marty would have loved every aspect of this story; I believe he would have liked Larry and vice versa.

The next time I saw Larry was when he presented at the Forum about Erikson. He was brilliant and human, of course. I now cannot pick up one of Erikson’s books without thinking about Larry’s presentation, and the aspects of Erikson’s life that Larry learned through his scholarship and shared with all of us. In the midst of that presentation, Larry made me tell the story about the Mud Hens and the mug. It is impossible now for me to think about Larry without smiling, even as I continue to be filled with admiration.

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Authors:

Joyce M. Rosenberg

Joyce M. Rosenberg, JD, is a licensed psychoanalyst, member of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, Research Associate of the Psychohistory Forum, and she has a private practice in Manhattan working with adults and couples. She has taught courses on ethics, working with masochistic patients, and resistance analysis, as well as written papers on the connection between the psyche and creativity, empathy in culture and psychoanalysis, and the Holocaust. She may be contacted at .

How to Cite This:

Rosenberg, J. M. (2023). Larry Friedman, the Toledo Mud Hens, and me. In M. I. West, P. H. Elovitz, & N. D’Andria (Eds.), Lawrence Jacob Friedman Festschrift. Clio’s Psyche, 29(3), 316-318.

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