Great players I watched when growing up

icsept

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Interestingly, teams have resorted to “small ball” in the playoffs. Apparently, the Rays didn’t attempt a sacrifice bunt the entire regular season, but did in the playoffs. Also, the defensive shifts are less dramatic in the postseason, because players are more willing to hit the opposite way. In the playoffs, you play to win.
 

Leonardfan

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I agree. Morgan had no weaknesses batting or fielding, and ranks 11th all time in stolen bases. His lifetime batting average was a relatively modest .271 but he led the NL in on base percentage four times, with his patience and short stature (5' 7") enabling him to get lots of walks.

As a player and announcer, Morgan was articulate and always came across well. The other announcers in the booth always pandered to him, with Bob Uecker in particular always acting like an excited three month old puppy around him.

Later on Morgan became the poster boy for the endless whining about the supposed lack of blacks in baseball and we made fun of him quite a bit for that, but that may have been caused as much by the media's kneejerk agenda to always call on Morgan every time they wanted to milk that topic as Morgan being totally obsessed with it.

As an aside, whatever happened to big-time base stealers? The current active career leader is Dee Gordon with just 333. Brett Gardner is fourth with 270. Compare that to the thiefs of the '60s through early '00s like Rickey Henderson (1,406), Lou Brock (938), Tim Raines (808), Vince Coleman (752), Ichiro (708), Joe Morgan (689), and a number of others with more than 500, including Brett Butler with 558. Is everyone too busy swinging for the fences and/or striking out?

Brett Butler - talk about a blast from the past! I remember being a big fan of his as a 9/10 year old back in the early 90s when he was on the Dodgers - speedy white center fielder. Back when baseball was still king pre 1994 strike. As a sport baseball was my first love and the sport me and my brothers played growing up and watching. My grandfather used to listen to Phillies games on his porch and I can recall listening to the games with him when visiting over the summers.

Not trying to be a romantic of wax poetic about the sport but as I get older I feel that the 90s were the end of the "American Dream". There was a good run from the post-war period through the 90s - the "Greatest Generation" were on their way out and power had been slowly changing hands over to the Baby Boomers who really accelerated the downturn of America. Not saying it was all their fault because their is plenty of blame to go around but they really were the beneficiaries of a great thing and slowly swindled it mostly through subversion which took root in the 50s/60s.

Back to baseball: Small ball and baseball strategy really changed post the 94 strike which did a lot of harm to the sport. The Sosa/McGwire HR chase and the blind eye to both of them using PEDs (along with Bonds and many others) was all part of the MLB selling it's soul in the late 90s/early 2000s to try and regain it's place as America's favorite sport. Much like the NFL has done over the past 15 years the MLB has constantly tweaked the rules to try to make the game more "entertaining". Juiced balls, smaller ball parks, making the focus on the "experience" rather than the game itself, the selective (and lackadaisical) enforcement of PEDs and the adoption of social justice themes (a more current trend). The MLB decided to fix something that was not broken, something that worked for almost a century to it's now diluted state (same could be said for the NFL over the past 15-20 years who have really harmed the game and changed what the sport was due to rule changes. Innovations in offensive/defensive schemes have always been present but the manipulation of the rules to give one side of the ball a bigger advantage has swayed heavily towards the offense in the league's recent history). The parallels between both the NFL and MLB in terms of engineering and manipulating a pure game into something to fit an agenda are both evident for anyone who wants to take a look.
 
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Freethinker

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Brett Butler - talk about a blast from the past! I remember being a big fan of his as a 9/10 year old back in the early 90s when he was on the Dodgers - speedy white center fielder. Back when baseball was still king pre 1994 strike. As a sport baseball was my first love and the sport me and my brothers played growing up and watching. My grandfather used to listen to Phillies games on his porch and I can recall listening to the games with him when visiting over the summers.

Not trying to be a romantic of wax poetic about the sport but as I get older I feel that the 90s were the end of the "American Dream". There was a good run from the post-war period through the 90s - the "Greatest Generation" were on their way out and power had been slowly changing hands over to the Baby Boomers who really accelerated the downturn of America. Not saying it was all their fault because their is plenty of blame to go around but they really were the beneficiaries of a great thing and slowly swindled it mostly through subversion which took root in the 50s/60s.

Back to baseball: Small ball and baseball strategy really changed post the 94 strike which did a lot of harm to the sport. The Sosa/McGwire HR chase and the blind eye to both of them using PEDs (along with Bonds and many others) was all part of the MLB selling it's soul in the late 90s/early 2000s to try and regain it's place as America's favorite sport. Much like the NFL has done over the past 15 years the MLB has constantly tweaked the rules to try to make the game more "entertaining". Juiced balls, smaller ball parks, making the focus on the "experience" rather than the game itself, the selective (and lackadaisical) enforcement of PEDs and the adoption of social justice themes (a more current trend). The MLB decided to fix something that was not broken, something that worked for almost a century to it's not diluted state (same could be said for the NFL over the past 15-20 years who have really harmed the game and changed what the sport was due to rule changes. Innovations in offensive/defensive schemes have always been present but the manipulation of the rules to give one side of the ball a bigger advantage has swayed heavily towards the offense in the league's recent history). The parallels between both the NFL and MLB in terms of engineering and manipulating a pure game into something to fit an agenda are both evident for anyone who wants to take a look.
Great post. I feel the same way.
 

shamrock

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I loved baseball as a youngster above all things. So many great athletes: Musial, Williams, Mantle, Kaline, Mathews, Spahn, Koufax, Ford, Berra, and even some excellent black players who, in that era, played with dignity rather than acting like prima donna showboats as we see now. Yet I can no longer watch the game.

In my younger years the home run was infrequent enough to be appreciated; today they've become cheap and boring. And it's disgusting to watch these self-indulgent narcissists stand there admiring their shot. (Remember how Mantle used to put his head down and take off after hitting one, eyes to the ground and sprinting around the bases? He once said that he wanted to run it out quickly and get back in the dugout because he didn't want the pitcher to feel any worse than he already did. Can you imagine that attitude today?)

I once enjoyed watching the great strikeout pitchers: Jim Maloney, Herb Score, Koufax, Sam McDowell, and Ryne Duren, guys who were capable of striking out a man per inning, which was such a rare achievement then. Today every pitcher fans a man per inning or much higher so that, like the home run, strikeouts are cheap and strikeout pitchers are no longer interesting.

Finally, the advent of nerd control of baseball has resulted in dreadfully tedious games, where mostly all you see is the pitcher and catcher playing catch. I used to love going to the games to watch how a great fielder played his position. In those days fielders had more chances than today (in part due to less strikeouts) so you had multiple opportunities to see a Brooks Robinson make great plays, or Maz turn a beautiful double play. But today all the K's have made for much fewer fielding chances, draining much of the excitement of watching a fielder make dazzling plays, which was once much of the excitement of baseball.

The strikeouts have greatly increased down time, and so has every team's desire for walks. Batters invariably take the first strike and often take another. Next thing you know the pitcher has dragged the count out to 3 and 2 and meanwhile nothing at all has happened. Finally the batter either strikes out while swinging for the fence with two strikes or he walks and we get to see the excitement of a millionaire egomaniac do a slow trot to first.

Due to all these things and more (and especially an endless parade of relievers) nothing happens on the field any more. Or I should say, primarily three things happen: A cheap home run, followed by an agonizingly slow trip around the bases; a strikeout; or a long, drawn-out walk). Exciting.

I can't stand to watch it any more. I prefer horse racing now.
 

Don Wassall

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I loved baseball as a youngster above all things. So many great athletes: Musial, Williams, Mantle, Kaline, Mathews, Spahn, Koufax, Ford, Berra, and even some excellent black players who, in that era, played with dignity rather than acting like prima donna showboats as we see now. Yet I can no longer watch the game.

In my younger years the home run was infrequent enough to be appreciated; today they've become cheap and boring. And it's disgusting to watch these self-indulgent narcissists stand there admiring their shot. (Remember how Mantle used to put his head down and take off after hitting one, eyes to the ground and sprinting around the bases? He once said that he wanted to run it out quickly and get back in the dugout because he didn't want the pitcher to feel any worse than he already did. Can you imagine that attitude today?)

I once enjoyed watching the great strikeout pitchers: Jim Maloney, Herb Score, Koufax, Sam McDowell, and Ryne Duren, guys who were capable of striking out a man per inning, which was such a rare achievement then. Today every pitcher fans a man per inning or much higher so that, like the home run, strikeouts are cheap and strikeout pitchers are no longer interesting.

Finally, the advent of nerd control of baseball has resulted in dreadfully tedious games, where mostly all you see is the pitcher and catcher playing catch. I used to love going to the games to watch how a great fielder played his position. In those days fielders had more chances than today (in part due to less strikeouts) so you had multiple opportunities to see a Brooks Robinson make great plays, or Maz turn a beautiful double play. But today all the K's have made for much fewer fielding chances, draining much of the excitement of watching a fielder make dazzling plays, which was once much of the excitement of baseball.

The strikeouts have greatly increased down time, and so has every team's desire for walks. Batters invariably take the first strike and often take another. Next thing you know the pitcher has dragged the count out to 3 and 2 and meanwhile nothing at all has happened. Finally the batter either strikes out while swinging for the fence with two strikes or he walks and we get to see the excitement of a millionaire egomaniac do a slow trot to first.

Due to all these things and more (and especially an endless parade of relievers) nothing happens on the field any more. Or I should say, primarily three things happen: A cheap home run, followed by an agonizingly slow trip around the bases; a strikeout; or a long, drawn-out walk). Exciting.

I can't stand to watch it any more. I prefer horse racing now.

I agree. I loved baseball as a kid to the nth degree, from playing it to absorbing everything about its history. I had zillions of baseball cards, listened to just about every Pirates game on the radio when zany/beloved Bob Prince was the play by play announcer, bought every magazine and book I could, and wallpapered my room with pictures of baseball players I liked. I could tell you the pennant winners and batting champions and the rest of the trivia for both leagues going back to the beginning of the 20th century and even the late 19th century (before the American League was formed in 1901).

Now there's little I recognize about it and have no interest at all in following it. Fundamentals have been discarded and replaced by little more than strikeouts and homeruns, it's been completely corporatized and thus hollowed out and corrupted like everything else in society, and of course is filled with the obligatory identity politics and Caste policies, mostly elevating hispanics and Orientals as the short heyday black Americans had in the sport in the 1960s and '70s ain't coming back. And TV tries to make it palatable to the short attention span of dumbed-down America, which makes it an even worse product as the beauty of baseball used to be in the deliberately paced unveiling of a game and the myriad of strategies that took place as it unfolded.
 
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white is right

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I agree. I loved baseball as a kid to the nth degree, from playing it to absorbing everything about its history. I had zillions of baseball cards, bought every magazine and book I could, and wallpapered my room with pictures of baseball players I liked. I could tell you the pennant winners and batting champions and the rest of the trivia for both leagues going back to the beginning of the 20th century and even the late 19th century (before the American League was formed in 1901).

Now there's little I recognize about it and have no interest at all in following it. Fundamentals have been discarded and replaced by little more than strikeouts and homeruns, it's been completely corporatized and thus hollowed out and corrupted like everything else in society, and of course is filled with the obligatory identity politics and Caste policies, mostly elevating hispanics and Orientals as the short heyday black Americans had in the sport in the 1960s and '70s ain't coming back. And TV tries to make it palatable to the short attention span of dumbed-down America, which makes it an even worse product as the beauty of baseball used to be in the deliberately paced unveiling of a game and the myriad of strategies that took place as it unfolded.
I have a decent pirate stream for MLB games and if I was to watch a game I will watch a NL game because of the pitcher hitting and the managers forced to play small ball and managing your batters and pitchers is much more of an art form.

PS I too was huge fan that gave up the sport in the mid 90's because of the strike and sport going increasingly to cable tv . At the time I would go to bars to watch key playoff games but it became increasingly less, less the Cubs magical run in 16' and the Jays making the playoffs back in this time frame.

I actually feel that the MLB brass don't care about the death of baseball in the black community but feign alarm as this was talked about years ago when Griffey Jr broke into the majors, if 30 years of committees being formed and studies being proposed and all they have to show for it is a shrinking pool of Black players then this was meant to be.

The NBA and the NFL have never cared that the White American talent pool has cratered in their two leagues, less a time period where the NBA was on it's death door and the league was viewed as too Black and drug infested.

After Magic and Bird saved the league Stern never put any effort into keeping grass roots basketball alive in White communities like Ueberroth and Bud Light did for baseball in the Black community.
 

shamrock

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I agree. I loved baseball as a kid to the nth degree, from playing it to absorbing everything about its history. I had zillions of baseball cards, listened to just about every Pirates game on the radio when zany/beloved Bob Prince was the play by play announcer, bought every magazine and book I could, and wallpapered my room with pictures of baseball players I liked. I could tell you the pennant winners and batting champions and the rest of the trivia for both leagues going back to the beginning of the 20th century and even the late 19th century (before the American League was formed in 1901).

Now there's little I recognize about it and have no interest at all in following it. Fundamentals have been discarded and replaced by little more than strikeouts and homeruns, it's been completely corporatized and thus hollowed out and corrupted like everything else in society, and of course is filled with the obligatory identity politics and Caste policies, mostly elevating hispanics and Orientals as the short heyday black Americans had in the sport in the 1960s and '70s ain't coming back. And TV tries to make it palatable to the short attention span of dumbed-down America, which makes it an even worse product as the beauty of baseball used to be in the deliberately paced unveiling of a game and the myriad of strategies that took place as it unfolded.


Your last paragraph analyzes it perfectly, Don. "The short attention span of dumbed-down America" says it all and so much more about where our country is in these latter days of ignorance, poor taste, cancel culture, and just about everything else we could name that's so wrong in the America of today. And "the deliberately paced unveiling of a game" with "myriad strategies" (the steal, double steal, hit-and-run, drag bunt, sacrifice bunt, intelligent and timely choice of a reliever, etc.) that created the wonderful mental aspect of the old game.

Like you, I grew up eagerly studying the historical record book. As an 11-year-old I was able to order a paperback copy of the Encyclopedia of Baseball (two White Owl Cigar labels required, courtesy of Dad) and I pored over that volume for endless hours each summer vacation, amazed that Ty Cobb could hit .400 three times and that Ruth once hit .600 in a World Series. Summer was baseball fantasyland for the kids in my neighborhood. We'd play sandlot ball by day and listen to Harry Caray broadcast Cardinal games at night over KMOX, St. Louis (I often fell asleep with my transistor radio beside me as I listened in bed). I'd even occasionally pick up the Pirates if weather conditions were right over KDKH radio, if I remember the call letters right (that's a long way from Mobile). My favorite Bob Prince story came from the habit Prince had of inviting some friend up to the booth while he called the game. One such time he was conversing with one such guy when an enormous roar erupted over the airwaves. Prince, completely nonplussed, then said, "Well, we've certainly enjoyed talking with my old friend Joe Blow. And by the way, that roar you hear in the background was for Bob Skinner, who just hit a grand slam home run." I'm sure you have more funny stories about Prince.

As a kid I'd frequently go to double-A ballgames of the Southern Association at the late, great Hartwell Field where the Cleveland-affiliated Mobile Bears played. It was just seedy enough to be fascinating to my young eyes. There was an old foundry just beyond the right field fence, and I was much taken by the flickering foundry lights flaring all through the night. Railroad tracks ran between the right field wall and the foundry, and about 8:00 each night some long freight train would come lumbering by, shaking the ballpark and blaring its whistle at us. I always hoped a Mobile player might blast a homer into the hopper car, but I never saw it happen. Black folks were allowed into the ballpark but were only allowed to sit in a faded bleacher section way down the left field line and were forbidden from coming anywhere near the all-white grandstand area or from buying any refreshments under the stands.

All this was back before the advent of horribly concussive music at the ballpark, and I reveled in the sounds of baseball: the pop of the big pitcher's fastball in the mitt, the cry of the vendors: "Peanuts! Get your fresh hot peanuts!" and "Cold beer, ICE cold beer!" I loved the constant infield chatter and the little two-note whistle of the shortstop, all constantly encouraging the pitcher. As darkness fell over the field I'd look around and see all the men lighting up, their cigarette and cigar tips glowing like little orange fireflies all across the dark stands, overhung by a large wooden roof. The whole scene produced almost a cozy, intimate feeling, the shielding roof blocking out city sounds while magnifying ballpark sounds back to us, and all of us sitting there rooting together for the Bears. No women came to minor-league ballparks in those days so we were mercifully spared their gabble.

On very hot afternoons at home a friend and I would sit at my kitchen table and play a game you may remember called APBA baseball, a game which had individual playing cards for every player, realistically duplicating their strengths and weaknesses. I learned about the game from an ad in the old Street & Smith's baseball magazine so I mailed off for it and was delirious with joy when I saw the game's contents. When we played, my pal would always take the Milwaukee Braves and I'd take Musial and the Cardinals. One game he pitched Spahn for all 18 innings of a close game. When Musial hit a homer in the 19th to win it 2-1 for me, my friend brought his fist down hard on the Spahn card yelling, "Spahn, you bum! I should have taken you out ten innings ago." I responded cooly, "That's what I told you. You wore his arm out." Little did we know at the time that Spahn would come very close in real life to duplicating that kitchen-table performance (losing to Marichal in 16 innings, 1-0, I believe). I never tired of APBA baseball.


The Greatest Trade in Baseball History

If we weren't playing real baseball or APBA baseball, we'd be trading baseball cards, mostly TOPPS cards, though an occasional Bowman might find its way in. In 1957, the year following Mickey Mantle's magnum opus year, I found the Mick's card in a pack I'd bought at the grocery. A tremendous find, of course, with all Mantle's glittering 1956 stats sparkling on the reverse, and a great photo of him swinging the bat in follow-through posture. Even so, I wasn't a Yankee fan, but a good friend of mine was. In fact he had a whole fistful of Yankee cards, wrapped tightly in a worn-out rubber band. But he didn't have Mantle, not the 1957 Mantle. And that's how the great trade came about. I walked eagerly over to his house with the most daring proposal in baseball history on my mind and the Mantle card held deftly in my hand, for he had something I desperately wanted, a card I had never had in any edition.

"Hey, Jimmy," I said. "You're not gonna guess whose card I got today."
"Another Kaline? You already have three of them."
"No," I replied, "not Kaline. Somebody better than Kaline."
"Mays?"
"No, somebody even better than Mays."
"Well, lemme see it then." So at that moment I held up the Mantle card.
"Oh!" he yelled. "Where did you get it?"
"Would you like to have it, Jimmy?"
"Of course I would!" he screamed. "I haven't had a bit of luck with Mantle this year."
"Well, if you want to make a great trade, you have Ted, I believe."
"Ted who?"
"Ted... you know Ted," I smiled slyly.
"Aw," he grinned.

And that is how Mickey Mantle was traded for Ted Williams, the greatest trade in baseball history, whether of real players or cardboard ones. And I still have that 1957 Ted Williams card, hanging in a framed wall display along with 1952 Bowman Musial and 1960 Fleer cards of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young. Sounds more impressive than it is because these are fairly common cards, but they are worth more to me than the few dollars they'd fetch at sale.

I seriously miss the old game.
 

white is right

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Your last paragraph analyzes it perfectly, Don. "The short attention span of dumbed-down America" says it all and so much more about where our country is in these latter days of ignorance, poor taste, cancel culture, and just about everything else we could name that's so wrong in the America of today. And "the deliberately paced unveiling of a game" with "myriad strategies" (the steal, double steal, hit-and-run, drag bunt, sacrifice bunt, intelligent and timely choice of a reliever, etc.) that created the wonderful mental aspect of the old game.

Like you, I grew up eagerly studying the historical record book. As an 11-year-old I was able to order a paperback copy of the Encyclopedia of Baseball (two White Owl Cigar labels required, courtesy of Dad) and I pored over that volume for endless hours each summer vacation, amazed that Ty Cobb could hit .400 three times and that Ruth once hit .600 in a World Series. Summer was baseball fantasyland for the kids in my neighborhood. We'd play sandlot ball by day and listen to Harry Caray broadcast Cardinal games at night over KMOX, St. Louis (I often fell asleep with my transistor radio beside me as I listened in bed). I'd even occasionally pick up the Pirates if weather conditions were right over KDKH radio, if I remember the call letters right (that's a long way from Mobile). My favorite Bob Prince story came from the habit Prince had of inviting some friend up to the booth while he called the game. One such time he was conversing with one such guy when an enormous roar erupted over the airwaves. Prince, completely nonplussed, then said, "Well, we've certainly enjoyed talking with my old friend Joe Blow. And by the way, that roar you hear in the background was for Bob Skinner, who just hit a grand slam home run." I'm sure you have more funny stories about Prince.

As a kid I'd frequently go to double-A ballgames of the Southern Association at the late, great Hartwell Field where the Cleveland-affiliated Mobile Bears played. It was just seedy enough to be fascinating to my young eyes. There was an old foundry just beyond the right field fence, and I was much taken by the flickering foundry lights flaring all through the night. Railroad tracks ran between the right field wall and the foundry, and about 8:00 each night some long freight train would come lumbering by, shaking the ballpark and blaring its whistle at us. I always hoped a Mobile player might blast a homer into the hopper car, but I never saw it happen. Black folks were allowed into the ballpark but were only allowed to sit in a faded bleacher section way down the left field line and were forbidden from coming anywhere near the all-white grandstand area or from buying any refreshments under the stands.

All this was back before the advent of horribly concussive music at the ballpark, and I reveled in the sounds of baseball: the pop of the big pitcher's fastball in the mitt, the cry of the vendors: "Peanuts! Get your fresh hot peanuts!" and "Cold beer, ICE cold beer!" I loved the constant infield chatter and the little two-note whistle of the shortstop, all constantly encouraging the pitcher. As darkness fell over the field I'd look around and see all the men lighting up, their cigarette and cigar tips glowing like little orange fireflies all across the dark stands, overhung by a large wooden roof. The whole scene produced almost a cozy, intimate feeling, the shielding roof blocking out city sounds while magnifying ballpark sounds back to us, and all of us sitting there rooting together for the Bears. No women came to minor-league ballparks in those days so we were mercifully spared their gabble.

On very hot afternoons at home a friend and I would sit at my kitchen table and play a game you may remember called APBA baseball, a game which had individual playing cards for every player, realistically duplicating their strengths and weaknesses. I learned about the game from an ad in the old Street & Smith's baseball magazine so I mailed off for it and was delirious with joy when I saw the game's contents. When we played, my pal would always take the Milwaukee Braves and I'd take Musial and the Cardinals. One game he pitched Spahn for all 18 innings of a close game. When Musial hit a homer in the 19th to win it 2-1 for me, my friend brought his fist down hard on the Spahn card yelling, "Spahn, you bum! I should have taken you out ten innings ago." I responded cooly, "That's what I told you. You wore his arm out." Little did we know at the time that Spahn would come very close in real life to duplicating that kitchen-table performance (losing to Marichal in 16 innings, 1-0, I believe). I never tired of APBA baseball.


The Greatest Trade in Baseball History

If we weren't playing real baseball or APBA baseball, we'd be trading baseball cards, mostly TOPPS cards, though an occasional Bowman might find its way in. In 1957, the year following Mickey Mantle's magnum opus year, I found the Mick's card in a pack I'd bought at the grocery. A tremendous find, of course, with all Mantle's glittering 1956 stats sparkling on the reverse, and a great photo of him swinging the bat in follow-through posture. Even so, I wasn't a Yankee fan, but a good friend of mine was. In fact he had a whole fistful of Yankee cards, wrapped tightly in a worn-out rubber band. But he didn't have Mantle, not the 1957 Mantle. And that's how the great trade came about. I walked eagerly over to his house with the most daring proposal in baseball history on my mind and the Mantle card held deftly in my hand, for he had something I desperately wanted, a card I had never had in any edition.

"Hey, Jimmy," I said. "You're not gonna guess whose card I got today."
"Another Kaline? You already have three of them."
"No," I replied, "not Kaline. Somebody better than Kaline."
"Mays?"
"No, somebody even better than Mays."
"Well, lemme see it then." So at that moment I held up the Mantle card.
"Oh!" he yelled. "Where did you get it?"
"Would you like to have it, Jimmy?"
"Of course I would!" he screamed. "I haven't had a bit of luck with Mantle this year."
"Well, if you want to make a great trade, you have Ted, I believe."
"Ted who?"
"Ted... you know Ted," I smiled slyly.
"Aw," he grinned.

And that is how Mickey Mantle was traded for Ted Williams, the greatest trade in baseball history, whether of real players or cardboard ones. And I still have that 1957 Ted Williams card, hanging in a framed wall display along with 1952 Bowman Musial and 1960 Fleer cards of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young. Sounds more impressive than it is because these are fairly common cards, but they are worth more to me than the few dollars they'd fetch at sale.

I seriously miss the old game.
I actually remember that game(I don't recall playing it), I remember on the back of a few years of baseball cards they had a similar game with strikeouts, hits, doubles, triples, home runs and steals. Football cards had this a few years too, but this was before my time.

PS, if you had a 52' Mantle in even banged up toilet paper shape it's worth the price of a decent vehicle. If you kept it in decent shape and it would be worth the price of condominium in a moderately priced city and if you stuck a 52' Mantle in a book or drawer somewhere you could have card worth the price of house in an expensive gentrified city...
 

Don Wassall

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Shamrock, I enjoy your reminiscing and we share many of the same experiences when it comes to baseball.

The game I liked was Strat-o-Matic, also after seeing it advertised in Street & Smith's. I spent (wasted) a lot of time filling out lineups and rolling dice, as the results over time usually were close to what the players did in real life. Still have some of the player cards, but a quick look at E-Bay indicates they aren't worth much.

KDKA was the flagship station of the Pirates, which like KMOX had a very strong signal that carried long distances on summer nights. I met Bob Prince a couple of times as my best friend's father belonged to the now-defunct Pittsburgh Athletic Association, which was headquartered in a beautiful Roman-style building not far from Forbes Field in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh (the neighborhood where Dan Marino grew up and where the University of Pittsburgh is located). Once or twice a year the PAA sponsored a pre-game event where some Pirates and their opponent of the evening signed items and folks like Bob Prince were mingling and having some cocktails. Prince always went out of his way to be friendly to everybody, even young kids like me. When the Pirates inexplicably fired him in 1975 it took the city's baseball fans a long time to get over it.

I watched a lot of games at Forbes Field and then Three Rivers Stadium, including the first ever game at the latter in 1970. Right field at Forbes Field was only 300 feet down the line but the right field upper deck towered high enough that only 18 home runs were ever hit over the right field roof. Babe Ruth hit the first one in May of 1935, 26 years after the stadium opened. Ruth was then 40 and was playing for the Boston Braves. He hit three homers that day, the third being the one that soared over the upper deck. It turned out to be the last home run of his career as he was washed up and was let go shortly thereafter.

Willie Stargell hit 7 of the 18 over the roof. I was sitting in the upper deck in right twice when Stargell did it, watching the balls disappear way over my head. I also witnessed Roberto Clemente's 2,000th career hit there, and was at Three Rivers Stadium at the end of the '72 season when he was going for 3,000. We thought he had it when he hit an apparent double, but then the official scorer changed it to a two-base error. I wasn't there the next day when he got the 3,000th and last hit of his career before dying in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972.

I attended some playoff games at Three Rivers in the '70s (and Steelers games during their dynasty years), and was there for Game 5 of the 1979 World Series. Lots of great memories. I've only seen three or four games at PNC Park since it opened in 2001, though it's a great throwback type field with nice views of Downtown Pittsburgh.
 
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shamrock

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I actually remember that game(I don't recall playing it), I remember on the back of a few years of baseball cards they had a similar game with strikeouts, hits, doubles, triples, home runs and steals. Football cards had this a few years too, but this was before my time.

PS, if you had a 52' Mantle in even banged up toilet paper shape it's worth the price of a decent vehicle. If you kept it in decent shape and it would be worth the price of condominium in a moderately priced city and if you stuck a 52' Mantle in a book or drawer somewhere you could have card worth the price of house in an expensive gentrified city...

Well, White, you're certainly right about the 1952 Mantle card. I think it just went for 5 million bucks. Insane. No baseball card is worth that. My '57 Mantle is probably worth no more than a few hundred even in the great condition it's in. That's okay. I have my consolation. My '57 Mantle, which is a great action photo, is a visually much better card than the '52 Mantle. Well, not quite consolation, but at least I didn't spend 5 mil on it. As a friend once told me: "Some people have more money than brains." Sounds like sour grapes, eh?
 

shamrock

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Shamrock, I enjoy your reminiscing and we share many of the same experiences when it comes to baseball.

The game I liked was Strat-o-Matic, also after seeing it advertised in Street & Smith's. I spent (wasted) a lot of time filling out lineups and rolling dice, as the results over time usually were close to what the players did in real life. Still have some of the player cards, but a quick look at E-Bay indicates they aren't worth much.

KDKA was the flagship station of the Pirates, which like KMOX had a very strong signal that carried long distances on summer nights. I met Bob Prince a couple of times as my best friend's father belonged to the now-defunct Pittsburgh Athletic Association, which was headquartered in a beautiful Roman-style building not far from Forbes Field in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh (the neighborhood where Dan Marino grew up and where the University of Pittsburgh is located). Once or twice a year the PAA sponsored a pre-game event where some Pirates and their opponent of the evening signed items and folks like Bob Prince were mingling and having some cocktails. Prince always went out of his way to be friendly to everybody, even young kids like me. When the Pirates inexplicably fired him in 1975 it took the city's baseball fans a long time to get over it.

I watched a lot of games at Forbes Field and then Three Rivers Stadium, including the first ever game at the latter in 1970. Right field at Forbes Field was only 300 feet down the line but the right field upper deck towered high enough that only 18 home runs were ever hit over the right field roof. Babe Ruth hit the first one in May of 1935, 26 years after the stadium opened. Ruth was then 40 and was playing for the Boston Braves. He hit three homers that day, the third being the one that soared over the upper deck. It turned out to be the last home run of his career as he was washed up and was let go shortly thereafter.

Willie Stargell hit 7 of the 18 over the roof. I was sitting in the upper deck in right twice when Stargell did it, watching the balls disappear way over my head. I also witnessed Roberto Clemente's 2,000th career hit there, and was at Three Rivers Stadium at the end of the '72 season when he was going for 3,000. We thought he had it when he hit an apparent double, but then the official scorer changed it to a two-base error. I wasn't there the next day when he got the 3,000th and last hit of his career before dying in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972.

I attended some playoff games at Three Rivers in the '70s (and Steelers games during their dynasty years), and was there for Game 5 of the 1979 World Series. Lots of great memories. I've only seen three or four games at PNC Park since it opened in 2001, though it's a great throwback type field with nice views of Downtown Pittsburgh.


Loved the story about the Babe's 3 homers at age 40. And I've seen old photos of Forbes, perhaps the most famous one ever, that great shot looking right down the third base line as Maz swings, launching the second most memorable homer of the 20th century, the one that wins the 1960 Series.

I always thought Clemente was the most exciting player I ever saw, along with, perhaps, Mantle and his monstrous swing and his beautiful drag bunts. Mick could have batted .400 just drag bunting in his early years, before the leg problems began to accrue.

Great memories.
 

Booth

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He was not a great player in terms of all-around ability but I would like to mention a player who grew up about 10 minutes from where I grew up. His name was Willie "PudddingHead" Jones. He was a two -time all-star and hit 190 homers and batted .258 for the Phillies. He was an outstanding fielder at 3rd base the Phillies best third baseman until years later they got Mike Schmidt. He was reportedly the slowest runner in the N.L. Dizzy Dean once said, "Pudding wasn't slow he just ran in the same place for along time." He wasn't great to the baseball world but to us he was. He's buried in my hometown he had come back home and sold used cars. He couldn't sell cars for people wanting to talk baseball. He died in 1983.
 

shamrock

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He was not a great player in terms of all-around ability but I would like to mention a player who grew up about 10 minutes from where I grew up. His name was Willie "PudddingHead" Jones. He was a two -time all-star and hit 190 homers and batted .258 for the Phillies. He was an outstanding fielder at 3rd base the Phillies best third baseman until years later they got Mike Schmidt. He was reportedly the slowest runner in the N.L. Dizzy Dean once said, "Pudding wasn't slow he just ran in the same place for along time." He wasn't great to the baseball world but to us he was. He's buried in my hometown he had come back home and sold used cars. He couldn't sell cars for people wanting to talk baseball. He died in 1983.

The wonder of baseball cards as a magic carpet to the past! It's funny, Booth, but the minute I saw "Puddinghead" Jones in your post, a mental image of a Phillies player in batting stance surrounded by a green circular frame swam before me. My next thought was TOPPS 1959, because that year's Topps cards used the circular frame to showcase the players. And then I thought, can my memory be correct about Puddinghead's card? So I googled "Puddinghead Jones 1959 baseball card," and there it appeared on the screen before me almost precisely as I'd recalled it. Yes, I'd even remembered that he was a Philly and an infielder, though I didn't remember his stats at all, which, to a 10-year-old kid would have seemed quite unremarkable. Yet 190 home runs shows he had pretty good power.

Well, that's all a testament to the magnetic hold baseball cards had on me and on the boys in my neighborhood in the 1950s and early '60s. One reason I remembered him was because I'd separate my cards by team and organize them all that way. But it's hard to imagine now that a big-league starter and two-time all star would have to come back and sell cars. A player of his caliber today would have made several million dollars and spend the rest of his life golfing and fishing.

In my hometown of Mobile we had a player of commensurate ability to Willie by the name of Frank Bolling. Bolling played 2nd base for the Tigers and Braves in a 12-year career and, like Willie, made all-star twice. Bolling's lifetime average was .254, very similar to Jones', and he was also a slick-fielding infielder. Their careers were contemporaneous (1950s) and they both retired in the early 1960s. (These stats from my Total Baseball record book just now.)

Frank Bolling actually had two brothers who made the majors. I wonder how many times that has happened? Everyone in Mobile was so proud of Frank. We'd even drive by his home occasionally (a fairly modest one) and my Dad would say, "That's Frank Bolling's home," as if it were the greatest thing in the world.

Yet we had certain players from Mobile that were light years better than Frank Bolling, who we all worked hard to ignore. When I was 8 years old I arrived in Mobile after having spent my early years in Texas, and I was totally naive about the culture in my new home state of Alabama. Well, after settling in to our new home I wandered out in my front yard one day where some neighbor kids had gathered with their baseball cards. I didn't know much about the players at that young age, but I did have a few baseball cards. They were all looking at the stats on the backs of their cards and bragging about some player's batting average they had, saying things like:

"Look at this guy's average - he batted .305 last year!"
"Kaline batted .313! Wow!"
Meanwhile, looking at my own cards I said, "Hey, this guy's got all those players beat. He batted .326! And, he's even from MOBILE!" They eagerly asked, "Who is it?"
I turned Hank Aaron's card face-up and suddenly everyone got quiet. One boy said, "We don't like him," and turned away.

I realized then that I had a lot to learn about my new town, my new neighborhood, and myself. In the succeeding years the negro talent coming out of Mobile continued to astound me: Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Amos Otis, Ozzie Smith, and, of course, I learned about Satchel Paige.

At first, I just thought of guys like Aaron and McCovey as great players, though I knew they weren't the kind of players I'd admire. My favorites were Musial, Williams, Spahn, and Kaline, perfectly natural to a kid growing up in the 1950s and '60s, but I never felt any resentment toward black people. But, of course, I knew no black people. I lived in an apartheid society. I graduated from high school in 1967, the last segregated class at my high school. I was very lucky. All hell broke loose at my beloved school the very next year.

And as I grew into adulthood and a career, I came to fully understand why that little boy had said to me about Aaron, "We don't like him." Like most of you on this site I try to be fair with anyone of any color or nationality, but the constant political conniving and agitating for more and more unmerited demands and special privileges has often made me resentful toward that race. And living here in the Deep South, many of the cultural conflicts are much more immediately apparent than in many other areas of the country.

I often think these conflicts will never be resolved. Maybe they are just irresoluble. Maybe we, and I, aren't much interested in a resolution that seriously compromises our own culture's values, and that is sufficient justification in itself for me, but after 71 years on this planet I still know I have a lot to learn and that I'll never scratch the surface of all that.

Thanks for your message about Puddinghead, booth. I'm always ready to talk about baseball.
 

Booth

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Shamrock, that was one of the best written posts I have ever read on this site. I know exactly what you are talking about growing up in the deep South. I loved baseball growing up and was hoping it was a way out of the hell hole that was my hometown. We played every day we could and watch the one game a week that was on tv. My father was the local Grand Dragon of the klan unit and he always told us that baseball killed itself in 1947 with Jackie Robinson. I doubted him for years but it turns out he was right. I was either born a racist or I was made into one. Regardless, I am what I am.
Shamrock, do you remember the 1960 world series? Bobby Richardson was playing 2b for the Yankees. He was another S.C. boy who made it to the bigs. I still see him with his head down as Mazeroski rounded the bases. I got a question for you and I know you know the answer but I am going to ask you anyway. Who was playing left field for the Yankees when Mazeroski hit the home run? It was Yogi Berra.
I knew you would know that.
Bobby Richardson had a youth ministry that visited reform schools, as they called back then and I was in one in Florence, S.C. in 1966 and got to meet him and several members of his group. He talked some about baseball and told some Mickey & Whitey stories but his main message was his relationship with God and how he depended on him every day. I better end this, so thank you again shamrock it struck home for me in many ways.
 

TomIron361

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Your last paragraph analyzes it perfectly, Don. "The short attention span of dumbed-down America" says it all and so much more about where our country is in these latter days of ignorance, poor taste, cancel culture, and just about everything else we could name that's so wrong in the America of today. And "the deliberately paced unveiling of a game" with "myriad strategies" (the steal, double steal, hit-and-run, drag bunt, sacrifice bunt, intelligent and timely choice of a reliever, etc.) that created the wonderful mental aspect of the old game.

Like you, I grew up eagerly studying the historical record book. As an 11-year-old I was able to order a paperback copy of the Encyclopedia of Baseball (two White Owl Cigar labels required, courtesy of Dad) and I pored over that volume for endless hours each summer vacation, amazed that Ty Cobb could hit .400 three times and that Ruth once hit .600 in a World Series. Summer was baseball fantasyland for the kids in my neighborhood. We'd play sandlot ball by day and listen to Harry Caray broadcast Cardinal games at night over KMOX, St. Louis (I often fell asleep with my transistor radio beside me as I listened in bed). I'd even occasionally pick up the Pirates if weather conditions were right over KDKH radio, if I remember the call letters right (that's a long way from Mobile). My favorite Bob Prince story came from the habit Prince had of inviting some friend up to the booth while he called the game. One such time he was conversing with one such guy when an enormous roar erupted over the airwaves. Prince, completely nonplussed, then said, "Well, we've certainly enjoyed talking with my old friend Joe Blow. And by the way, that roar you hear in the background was for Bob Skinner, who just hit a grand slam home run." I'm sure you have more funny stories about Prince.

As a kid I'd frequently go to double-A ballgames of the Southern Association at the late, great Hartwell Field where the Cleveland-affiliated Mobile Bears played. It was just seedy enough to be fascinating to my young eyes. There was an old foundry just beyond the right field fence, and I was much taken by the flickering foundry lights flaring all through the night. Railroad tracks ran between the right field wall and the foundry, and about 8:00 each night some long freight train would come lumbering by, shaking the ballpark and blaring its whistle at us. I always hoped a Mobile player might blast a homer into the hopper car, but I never saw it happen. Black folks were allowed into the ballpark but were only allowed to sit in a faded bleacher section way down the left field line and were forbidden from coming anywhere near the all-white grandstand area or from buying any refreshments under the stands.

All this was back before the advent of horribly concussive music at the ballpark, and I reveled in the sounds of baseball: the pop of the big pitcher's fastball in the mitt, the cry of the vendors: "Peanuts! Get your fresh hot peanuts!" and "Cold beer, ICE cold beer!" I loved the constant infield chatter and the little two-note whistle of the shortstop, all constantly encouraging the pitcher. As darkness fell over the field I'd look around and see all the men lighting up, their cigarette and cigar tips glowing like little orange fireflies all across the dark stands, overhung by a large wooden roof. The whole scene produced almost a cozy, intimate feeling, the shielding roof blocking out city sounds while magnifying ballpark sounds back to us, and all of us sitting there rooting together for the Bears. No women came to minor-league ballparks in those days so we were mercifully spared their gabble.

On very hot afternoons at home a friend and I would sit at my kitchen table and play a game you may remember called APBA baseball, a game which had individual playing cards for every player, realistically duplicating their strengths and weaknesses. I learned about the game from an ad in the old Street & Smith's baseball magazine so I mailed off for it and was delirious with joy when I saw the game's contents. When we played, my pal would always take the Milwaukee Braves and I'd take Musial and the Cardinals. One game he pitched Spahn for all 18 innings of a close game. When Musial hit a homer in the 19th to win it 2-1 for me, my friend brought his fist down hard on the Spahn card yelling, "Spahn, you bum! I should have taken you out ten innings ago." I responded cooly, "That's what I told you. You wore his arm out." Little did we know at the time that Spahn would come very close in real life to duplicating that kitchen-table performance (losing to Marichal in 16 innings, 1-0, I believe). I never tired of APBA baseball.


The Greatest Trade in Baseball History

If we weren't playing real baseball or APBA baseball, we'd be trading baseball cards, mostly TOPPS cards, though an occasional Bowman might find its way in. In 1957, the year following Mickey Mantle's magnum opus year, I found the Mick's card in a pack I'd bought at the grocery. A tremendous find, of course, with all Mantle's glittering 1956 stats sparkling on the reverse, and a great photo of him swinging the bat in follow-through posture. Even so, I wasn't a Yankee fan, but a good friend of mine was. In fact he had a whole fistful of Yankee cards, wrapped tightly in a worn-out rubber band. But he didn't have Mantle, not the 1957 Mantle. And that's how the great trade came about. I walked eagerly over to his house with the most daring proposal in baseball history on my mind and the Mantle card held deftly in my hand, for he had something I desperately wanted, a card I had never had in any edition.

"Hey, Jimmy," I said. "You're not gonna guess whose card I got today."
"Another Kaline? You already have three of them."
"No," I replied, "not Kaline. Somebody better than Kaline."
"Mays?"
"No, somebody even better than Mays."
"Well, lemme see it then." So at that moment I held up the Mantle card.
"Oh!" he yelled. "Where did you get it?"
"Would you like to have it, Jimmy?"
"Of course I would!" he screamed. "I haven't had a bit of luck with Mantle this year."
"Well, if you want to make a great trade, you have Ted, I believe."
"Ted who?"
"Ted... you know Ted," I smiled slyly.
"Aw," he grinned.

And that is how Mickey Mantle was traded for Ted Williams, the greatest trade in baseball history, whether of real players or cardboard ones. And I still have that 1957 Ted Williams card, hanging in a framed wall display along with 1952 Bowman Musial and 1960 Fleer cards of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young. Sounds more impressive than it is because these are fairly common cards, but they are worth more to me than the few dollars they'd fetch at sale.

I seriously miss the old game.
As a 100 % National League fan (Brooklyn Dodgers), I would have said, Ted Kluszewski. Couldn't stand any American League guys. We kids in Brooklyn only thought of the Yankees as American League and we hated them. So, the only Ted I could think of off the cuff would have been Kluszewski - a pretty good ballplayer but not in the stratosphere you're talking about.
 

shamrock

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Shamrock, that was one of the best written posts I have ever read on this site. I know exactly what you are talking about growing up in the deep South. I loved baseball growing up and was hoping it was a way out of the hell hole that was my hometown. We played every day we could and watch the one game a week that was on tv. My father was the local Grand Dragon of the klan unit and he always told us that baseball killed itself in 1947 with Jackie Robinson. I doubted him for years but it turns out he was right. I was either born a racist or I was made into one. Regardless, I am what I am.
Shamrock, do you remember the 1960 world series? Bobby Richardson was playing 2b for the Yankees. He was another S.C. boy who made it to the bigs. I still see him with his head down as Mazeroski rounded the bases. I got a question for you and I know you know the answer but I am going to ask you anyway. Who was playing left field for the Yankees when Mazeroski hit the home run? It was Yogi Berra.
I knew you would know that.
Bobby Richardson had a youth ministry that visited reform schools, as they called back then and I was in one in Florence, S.C. in 1966 and got to meet him and several members of his group. He talked some about baseball and told some Mickey & Whitey stories but his main message was his relationship with God and how he depended on him every day. I better end this, so thank you again shamrock it struck home for me in many ways.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful words, Booth.

My father wasn't in the Klan, but when I was about 45 he told me for the first time that his father, my grandad, was a Klan member in the 1910s and '20s in San Antonio, Texas where I was born. My grandad was a Shriner, had been a full colonel in the Army, and was highly respected in San Antonio, and I remember being shocked and protesting against this news, but my dad told me that the Klan was much needed in those days to protect the towns and white citizens of that area.

Now I have been an advocate of segregation since I was a young adult, but I still feared that the Klan was a bridge too far for me. After much reading since then I am better able to put it into perspective. I still feel pretty ambiguous about that bit of information, but I know my grandad was a good man, and I feel sure he wouldn't have participated in any action that was unjustified. And I still staunchly believe that school integration was an unmitigated disaster for both our schools and our country, probably the worst thing that's happened since the Civil War. I am not against giving black people a hand up and some assistance to their communities to help them better their situations where necessary, but I believe that blacks and whites are too different from each other to coexist harmoniously.

Regarding Bobby Richardson, I think he was a wonderful man and a great example to the kids of his time. I remember also that he coached baseball for the Gamecocks after he retired from baseball.

The only reason I know Berra was in left field in that 7th game for the Yanks is because I have that great photo of Maz's shot and in the photo I can see Yogi out there moving to his right, obviously hoping he might have a chance at catching it. But I missed the game itself because I didn't make it home from school in time. I had to listen to my dad telling me what a great game I missed. Just what I wanted to hear. Ha!
 

shamrock

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Ha! That's a good one. Big Klu of the cutoff sleeves and the massive upper arms. A fine hitter, but no, not quite in Williams's class. It bugs me every time I see someone's ranking of the greatest players in history and they have Mays ahead of Ted. They always either have Ruth #1 and Mays #2, or vice versa (horrors, that they would put Mays above Ruth, but that's the circus times we live in, eh?) I have it this way:

1. Ty Cobb
2. Ruth
3. Williams
4. Mays
5. Honus Wagner

Mays was no Williams. Willie was a better fielder than Ted, but Ted's big hitting advantage over Mays more than compensates for that. After all, how many games did Willie actually win with his glove? How many more by far did Ted win with his bat? That one's easy. And, yes, to me Cobb was even more amazing than the Babe.

Thanks for the humorous comment about Big Klu.
 
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Thank you very much for your thoughtful words, Booth.

My father wasn't in the Klan, but when I was about 45 he told me for the first time that his father, my grandad, was a Klan member in the 1910s and '20s in San Antonio, Texas where I was born. My grandad was a Shriner, had been a full colonel in the Army, and was highly respected in San Antonio, and I remember being shocked and protesting against this news, but my dad told me that the Klan was much needed in those days to protect the towns and white citizens of that area.

Now I have been an advocate of segregation since I was a young adult, but I still feared that the Klan was a bridge too far for me. After much reading since then I am better able to put it into perspective. I still feel pretty ambiguous about that bit of information, but I know my grandad was a good man, and I feel sure he wouldn't have participated in any action that was unjustified. And I still staunchly believe that school integration was an unmitigated disaster for both our schools and our country, probably the worst thing that's happened since the Civil War. I am not against giving black people a hand up and some assistance to their communities to help them better their situations where necessary, but I believe that blacks and whites are too different from each other to coexist harmoniously.

Regarding Bobby Richardson, I think he was a wonderful man and a great example to the kids of his time. I remember also that he coached baseball for the Gamecocks after he retired from baseball.

The only reason I know Berra was in left field in that 7th game for the Yanks is because I have that great photo of Maz's shot and in the photo I can see Yogi out there moving to his right, obviously hoping he might have a chance at catching it. But I missed the game itself because I didn't make it home from school in time. I had to listen to my dad telling me what a great game I missed. Just what I wanted to hear. Ha!

I saw Game Seven of the 1960 World Series on TV. We were out of school for cotton picking vacation, which we had in our rural Tennessee county. I still recall Bill Skowron's home run and Yogi Berra's three-run homer to put the Yankees ahead, and Hal Smith's that put the Pirates ahead 9-7 after eight innings. In the top of the ninth, the Yankees scored two runs to tie it up. Mickey Mantle made a great play on the bases to enable the Yankees to tie. Bill Mazeroski then hit the home run to win it 10-9.

As a Yankee fan, I was despondent. Even worse, we had to go out and pick some cotton after the game ended. It's still with me 60 years later.
 

icsept

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Great thread, guys. I was born in ‘69, so it’s right before my time. But no doubt we all grew up in better times.
 

shamrock

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I saw Game Seven of the 1960 World Series on TV. We were out of school for cotton picking vacation, which we had in our rural Tennessee county. I still recall Bill Skowron's home run and Yogi Berra's three-run homer to put the Yankees ahead, and Hal Smith's that put the Pirates ahead 9-7 after eight innings. In the top of the ninth, the Yankees scored two runs to tie it up. Mickey Mantle made a great play on the bases to enable the Yankees to tie. Bill Mazeroski then hit the home run to win it 10-9.

As a Yankee fan, I was despondent. Even worse, we had to go out and pick some cotton after the game ended. It's still with me 60 years later.

Cotton picking as a kid! Now that IS something! I grew up in the suburbs, never had to do anything like that, but we were barely middle class, no extra money for luxuries.

Yes, Hal Smith, the forgotten man. One of the greatest baseball games ever played. You have a great memory for it, but unfortunately I missed it due to school. The Yanks beat the tar out of the Bucs in that Series but still managed to lose. I never heard Mantle offer excuses for losing, but I remember that after that game he told a reporter, "This is one time the best team lost," and even though I had pulled for the Pirates, I remember thinking, "He's right. The Yanks were a better ballclub."

I was never a Yankee fan, but I sure admired Mantle, Berra, and Ford. Kids in my street used to argue the merits of Mantle and Mays. Today everyone lists Mays as a better player, but that's only because they are comparing career numbers, and Mays did have better career numbers, though a lot of that is simply due to cumulative effect. But, if their peak abilities are compared, I think Mick is decidedly better. He was faster, had more power, and hit for higher average during his peak years. He could lay down a perfect drag bunt and be standing on first before anyone even touched the ball.

One of my favorite Mantle stories was about the time he had hit 3 homers in a game and had a chance for a record-tying 4th. Everyone held their collective breath as he came up for his last bat that day. He promptly laid a bunt down! I can't think of another player who'd have done that. Mantle had more natural talent than either Mays or Aaron or perhaps anyone who ever played with the possible exception of George Herman Ruth. If a game was on the line and I could choose between Mantle or Mays, I'd take the Mick every time.
 
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Cotton picking as a kid! Now that IS something! I grew up in the suburbs, never had to do anything like that, but we were barely middle class, no extra money for luxuries.

Yes, Hal Smith, the forgotten man. One of the greatest baseball games ever played. You have a great memory for it, but unfortunately I missed it due to school. The Yanks beat the tar out of the Bucs in that Series but still managed to lose. I never heard Mantle offer excuses for losing, but I remember that after that game he told a reporter, "This is one time the best team lost," and even though I had pulled for the Pirates, I remember thinking, "He's right. The Yanks were a better ballclub."

I was never a Yankee fan, but I sure admired Mantle, Berra, and Ford. Kids in my street used to argue the merits of Mantle and Mays. Today everyone lists Mays as a better player, but that's only because they are comparing career numbers, and Mays did have better career numbers, though a lot of that is simply due to cumulative effect. But, if their peak abilities are compared, I think Mick is decidedly better. He was faster, had more power, and hit for higher average during his peak years. He could lay down a perfect drag bunt and be standing on first before anyone even touched the ball.

One of my favorite Mantle stories was about the time he had hit 3 homers in a game and had a chance for a record-tying 4th. Everyone held their collective breath as he came up for his last bat that day. He promptly laid a bunt down! I can't think of another player who'd have done that. Mantle had more natural talent than either Mays or Aaron or perhaps anyone who ever played with the possible exception of George Herman Ruth. If a game was on the line and I could choose between Mantle or Mays, I'd take the Mick every time.

In 1961 (before the 1961 season) Sport Magazine had a poll of readers: "Who's better, Mays or Mantle?" Mickey Mantle won by a fair margin. Mantle (and the Yankees) were doing better at the time, though the poll was before Mantle hit 54 home runs (to Maris' 61) in 1961.
 

shamrock

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In 1961 (before the 1961 season) Sport Magazine had a poll of readers: "Who's better, Mays or Mantle?" Mickey Mantle won by a fair margin. Mantle (and the Yankees) were doing better at the time, though the poll was before Mantle hit 54 home runs (to Maris' 61) in 1961.

Excellent point about the 1961 Sport Magazine poll, which confirms the notion that Mantle's peak - ergo, his talent level - was better than Mays,' and this even prior to Mick's monstrous '61 and superb '62 years. I didn't want either Mantle or Maris to break Ruth's record because I felt that Ruth was the greatest ever, with the possible exception of the ferocious Cobb. However, I much preferred Mantle breaking it over Maris because at least Mantle was in the same class of brilliance as Ruth, Cobb, Williams, and the others.

Mays is always rated above Mick due to superior lifetime stats, and I suppose longevity must be considered. Mays is also rated above Mantle these days, however, because the mainstream media must compulsively put the black man above the white. Everybody on this forum knows that, which is one reason why we're here. But Mantle's peak performance was undoubtedly better.

Same situation applies to Koufax. Most folks will rate plenty of pitchers over Koufax, but that's only possible due to Sandy's short career. Peak-for-peak I would not take anyone over Koufax. Pedro has his boosters and with good reason, but Pedro was typically a 7-inning pitcher and certainly a five-day rotation man. He lacked the stamina to go as deeply as often as Koufax, who consistently went 9, 10, 12 innings, and every 4th day as well, sometimes even on 3 days' rest, or even 2 in the Series. So Koufax is my peak pick over Pedro, Walter Johnson, Gibson, and anyone else that might be named. And Mick is my peak pick over Mays and Aaron and over most anyone not named Ruth, Cobb, Williams, or Gehrig.
 

Don Wassall

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Koufax's last four seasons, '63-'66, were as dominant as any pitcher ever was, at least in my lifetime. And he was almost as good in '61 and '62. But a pitcher whose sustained greatness isn't recognized enough is Randy Johnson. Johnson's excellent career win-loss percentage is .646, comparable to Koufax's .655, but Johnson did it for 22 seasons. Koufax had 2,396 career strikeouts in 2,326 innings, while Johnson had 4,875 in 4,135 innings and was still averaging close to a strikeout per inning in his mid-40s!

Nolan Ryan is the most remarkable power pitcher in baseball history, but not the best because of his W-L record (324-292).

The 1960s and '70s was a Golden Age of pitchers, one we won't see again because of five-man starting rotations and the specialization of relief pitchers. Give me 300 inning, 20 game winners with 20+ complete games any day of the week. And of course even they pale by comparison to the workhorse pitchers of the early 20th century.
 

Booth

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I didn't get to see him at his best but as the saying goes it was good enough. Robin Roberts was one of the 2 or 3 best pitchers of his era. He completed 30 games two consecutive years and won over 280 games mostly with the Phillies who for most of the time was a bottom of the division team except for a couple of years. Plus, Bob Feller said he was the best and that is good enough for me.
 

TomIron361

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I didn't get to see him at his best but as the saying goes it was good enough. Robin Roberts was one of the 2 or 3 best pitchers of his era. He completed 30 games two consecutive years and won over 280 games mostly with the Phillies who for most of the time was a bottom of the division team except for a couple of years. Plus, Bob Feller said he was the best and that is good enough for me.
Yep, Roberts was a great but as you said, played on some pretty bad Philly teams. The thing with him was if you didn't get to him early (1st-3rd inning), you were done because he got stronger from there on.
 
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