Due to his interest in baseball, Lardner began putting stories in his newspaper column that were purportedly written by unlettered athletes. Lardner, who had an excellent ear for dialogue, actually wrote these stories in the voice of the fictional rookie ballplayer Jack Keefe, a White Sox pitcher, who writes letters to his friend Al Blanchard back home in Bedford, Indiana. They remain peerless.
You Know Me Al gives a detailed account of Jack Keefe's problems and concerns that he encounters in the big leagues. Having first been bought by the Chicago White Sox, he is then sold to San Francisco, re-bought by Chicago, and eventually passed onto the New York Giants. Throughout the book and his letters Jack gives his complaints, shows off, and makes fanciful justifications on what is taking place on the field. Indeed the stories reveal baseball folklore—now and then.
Several streams of American comic tradition merge in You Know Me Al: the comic letter, the wisecrack, the braggart character, the use of sporting vocabulary and fractured English as a means to carry on apologetics. This collection of short stories revealed Lardner's talent for the sports idiom he made famous and is also credited with being one of the first books to criticize the excesses, hero-worship, and myth-making of sports.