Friday, February 24, 2006

Old Time Baseball

Normally, I'm pretty skeptical when I hear people older than me talk about how much things have changed. Frankly, I don't think things change very often. It's just people's perceptions that change for whatever reason.

However, with regards to baseball, I may have to rethink that philosophy. Last week, my father sent me a bunch of old newspaper clippings from one of his childhood scrapbooks. I'm not sure why but I think he was just cleaning up a little.

Regardless, this picture on the right caught my attention. The caption, which got cut off on the scan, says "Two-for-One Play Busted Up" and "Dodgers' Ramazotti is forced at second on Golan's third-frame grounder, but his slide into base throws Rigney out of position enough to halt possible double play."

The mater-of-fact nature of the caption makes me think this was a routine play back in the 40's. However, that play is anything but routine today. Players certainly try to break up double plays today with hard slides into second but that picture is ridiculous. Look where the guy is sliding in relation to the base. The guy is almost into centerfield. If a baserunner slid that far out of the baseline to take out an infielder today all hell would break loose. There'd be fights, suspensions, and lengthy diatribes from pundits on ESPN and sports talk radio.

I've heard older folks talk about how much tougher ballplayers were "back in the day" but I've always dismissed those comments as intentional delusions to degrade succeeding generations. However, that picture is making me think that it truely was a different game back in the 40's.

By the way, there were two other interesting items in the package from my father. The first one is a football schedule from his high school, St. Cecilia's in Englewood, NJ. Check out the name of the coach.

Before he went on to coach Fordham, West Point, NY Giants and Packers, Vince Lombardi was a successful high school football coach. In addition to coaching football, Lombardi taught latin, physics, algebra and chemistry. My father said he also coached the basketball team and led the team to a regional championship. The guy was just an amazing coach.

In exchange for doing all of that coaching and teaching, Lombardi was paid $1,800 per year. Even if you adjust that salary for inflation, it would still only yield $19,830 in 2006. I guess teachers were paid crappy salaries back then too.

My father also has a few programs from his high school games that show Lombardi as coach. One of these days, we should probably donate them to the NJ Sports Hall of Fame. Although, I would hate it if we gave them to the hall and they just archived the stuff.

The last item is a clipping from his high school newspaper discussing an upcoming play at the school. The school's drama coach was John Travolta's mother. Perhaps I'm trying too hard but I see a resemblance with he famous son. They both have that long face.

It seems odd for a tiny catholic school to have two coaches/teachers with rather famous names.


Peter said...

There was an "old time" baseball game in Birmingham today pitting a team representing the old Birmingham Black Barons v the Bristol Barnstormers. Here is a link:

c said...

that story reminds me of my dad and his dinner time talks about "the senator" and the old-school knicks and how today's players wouldn't last a minute with those guys....and yeah, that pic, travolta totally looks like his mom.