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RFS62
12-24-2004, 12:56 AM
Man, I miss Old Red Guard. He had a transcendent understanding of the game.

But his understanding of people and his wonderful writing style set him apart and made him a legend here.

M2 saved this piece in the archives, and here it is again. Merry Christmas.


By Old Red Guard

Might as well make my jaded commentary on this here thread which could be renamed "The Never Ending Story"

People who don't think we're watching the greatest athletes in baseball history are just wrong - Reds Faithful

Yep. Just about all the players from the 30s wouldn't do squat if they were transplanted into today's game as is. 20 year olds looked about 30, bodies were smaller overall, no one weight trained (Lord forbid that makes you musclebound don't you know). The most popular diet supplement was liquid malt barley in one form or 'nuther. Juiced meant a guy played better drunk, you slept on clanking, rocking, creaking trains and spent weeks on the road, living in pullman's and hotel rooms. Nutritional theory was the more fatty red meat the better and exercise was generally considered only in spring training if you weren't smart enough to get out of it then. If you pulled a muscle or tweaked a hammy you rubbed some homemade balm into it, gritted your teeth, shut your fool mouth and played the game. There was some kid playing out in the cornbelt who was hellbent to take your job and your boss was hellbent to give it to him if you faltered for a second. After all you were making 5 grand a year and he could pay that kid 1200 and a train ticket to do the same thing. You might be better but not if you're hurt - why give the kid any chance at showing his stuff. Keep playing. Sanitation was nonexistent. Well, okay, most guys washed their face once a day and a few bathed more than once a week, but only a few. Uniforms were worn until they could play the game by themselves. Don't tear it either - get a needle and darn it up - if the club has to buy another one for you before midpoint they'd deduct it from your check. Heck that's about 6 bottles of whiskey and a night with a Philly hooker! Players would have made good footballers though with all that weight. Wool uniforms full of sweat and 3 pounds of fermented dirt, heavy leather shoes with razored steel cleats, cotton unders and a patch of leather on your off-ham and you were playing with 20 pounds of itchy, scratchy, buggy, sometimes soggy, baggy mucilaginous fiber clinging to your every move. Compare that to today's featherweight outfits and shoes that weigh 6 ounces! Training equipment consisted of medicine balls, a big field and for pitchers, a wall to throw against. Knocking bottles off posts was a favorite way for kids to practice control, pitching off a concrete stoop and catching the rebounds, tossing at birds or rabbits and hitting rocks as far as you could were other disciplines of rigorous training. Stickball WAS great - it taught incredible bat control and concentration. You try hitting a small ball with a broomstick and see how well you do. Stickball in the streets is overlooked as a way to teach youngsters today. I'm seriuos. That's how I always coached my kids when I was involved in Pony baseball. I'd start out with stickball games and oven mitts for gloves. Bragging now but in twelve years coaching tykes we never once failed to win twice as many as we lost and a ton of my boys made allstar teams every year. Nothing special I did - just the stickball and oven mitts. Catch with an oven mitt and by gosh you WILL use 2 hands. Swing with a broomstick at a little rubber ball half the sizer of a baseball and by the time we played with real bats and balls and gloves the kids hardly missed anything. Easier to straighten out swings when they're hefting a broomstick, too. Helps them select the right weight bat, too. Most kids try to swing way too heavy. Anyway, drifting - back to former athletes.
Today's players are far better athletes. Work regimens are religiously adhered to, scientific principles are utilized, professionals in kinesiology, nutrition, conditioning for specific functions, flexibility, even psychology are employed to help players train. In the 30s and 40s you were too busy at your 2nd job during the offseason to train much. During the season some guys main exercise consisted of bouncin a different Betty in every town you visited and brawling in saloons. There were lots of "good" guys, too, that had families and religion. They loafed around the hotel reading, writing letters and playing cards. Not every player was a hell-raiser but the ripsnorts probably got more exercise viz less sleep. Top it off with the fact that communicable diseases were widespread, nutrition from the cradle to grave was sometimes good but inconsistent. Food followed the economy - lots of people ate thin soup and litle else when times were slow. For lots of kids times was always slow. Then as now the greatest weapon against poverty was hard work but then as now there were lots of folk who ignored that fact. There was no foodstamps, no unemployment checks, no welfare boards to take up the slack for the children. If your parents were unlucky, or bums, or down and out, then you didn't eat much. You spent your hours in the streets, playing stickball, pitching against that stoop, playing burnout with your buddies and breathing, sleeping, dreaming baseball. Then you're 16 and good - you play on a town team or maybe a factory boss pays you 3 bucks a game to play on their team and gives your old man a job to boot. You learn the game the hard way against guys who'll spike you, crash into you, trip you and rag you unmercifully -nothing sacred, mothers not spared. You small and young and facing a hulk of a pitcher who throws 85 ( fast enough back then) and spits tobacco with every pitch. He's dug a rut 6 inches in front of the rubber, too and pitches from there - the umps are scared of him so who's going to stop him? You know you can't pull him so you slap at the ball and poke it into left with a bit of spin - the ball caroms off into foul gorund after striking fair and you run like a jackrabbit, skipping over the first baseman's extended foot, ducking the elbow aimed at your ribs the 2nd sacker points your way and you slide into third with your spikes up and slashing. Not trying to hurt the guy, just keeping him from getting close enough to stomp on you when he sweeps the tag.
A couple years of this and a scout sees you and signs you for a ticket and fifty bucks and sends you to Red Oak, Iowa to play. You're 18 and weigh 140 sopping wet. Your face is drawn and you look 30 by today's standards but everyone in Red Oak calls you Cheeks because they think you have a "babyface". You're scrawny, undernourished, wiry strong but no one today would call you an athlete. Didn't then, either - you are a ballplayer. Big difference. Athletes are born - ballplayers are forged from runny gruel, concrete stoops, bouncing balls, broomsticks and hard knocks. You know all the dirty tricks - better known as essential survival techniques. At 21, you make the show. You do well, you're a 2nd baseman. You get on base any way you can, you holler at the pitcher, you steal when you can but only when its necessary. Go the other way, bunt, squeeze, and you've learned to swing from the heels when the pitcher is predictable. You use whatever you've been given, and you learn everything you can, every nuance possible. You are successful and your twetnies are golden years. Then you're 30. Within 2 or 3 years your career will be over. Your joints hurt, you've lost a couple of steps. You've played through aches and strains, and punished yourself for a decade to fend off the stream of prospects trying to unseat you. And now it happens. You're traded for no one inparticular to a terrible team. You play a couple years, your numbers aren't that bad but thwe little things are gone. You can't steal anymore, triples are doubles and doubles are singles and that kid up from Tuscaloosa that throws 92 just blows it by you. You retire at 33. You are old, ancient by baseball standards. You've never touched a weight set, never taken a vitamin or mineral supplement, never even heard of yoga or yogurt, never had a personal or team trainer, you have the beginnings of gout, and have had chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, and a variety of flus during your career. Mostly you played through it all and let your natural vitality cure it. You have a permanently bent finger from the time you broke it on a ball that jammed it, then you taped it, grimaced and played on. You have hammer toe because you played in second hand shoes for all those early years and the toe was too tight. You don't even know its why you couldn't run worth a damn anymore when you were just 30. You were a ballplayer. Now you're 33 and you're nothing. No job, no other skills, no player's association to write you a check. You take a job as a coach. You'll teach the same misguided theories and scoff at new advances in nutrition and training for years, delaying major advances in your sport until the mid to late 60s when rising salaries and advancing knowledge begins to change the way athletes take care of themselves and baseball begins to scout athletes for their potential instead of ballplayers for their skills. The theory is you can teach skills but you can't teach speed or genetics. In the back of my mind, this old man realizes they are right, but I miss the pure ballplayers. The ones who raised hell and tripped guys as they rounded second. The ones who took whatever you gave em and used it against you. When I was a child I watched ordinary men with extraordinary skills playing a game I loved. Today, I watch demi-gods of athleticism with lithe, muscular bodies play my beloved sport. The hope for the everyday joe, who works hard, who hones his skills fanatically, to play at the highest level, is almost gone. Yes, today's athletes are incredible and outclass their counterparts of yesteryear. They are not nearly as much fun to watch or follow.

Redsfaithful
12-24-2004, 03:00 AM
That should really have seen publication somewhere.

Thanks RFS.

ODERED
12-24-2004, 03:05 AM
Beautiful writing, poor attempt at justifying today's NBA Of Baseball as something deserving of praise, by passing humour off as knowledge of the game. I'm sure just about anyone could google and come up with a hodgepodge of facts about players from the 30's. Lastly, I have every reason to believe that players from the 30's would have fared better than players today (if I recall, Old Red Guard say that players from the 30's wouldn't do squat today), because players back then weren't relying on steroids and tons of "performance enhancers", and they DID (as Old Red Guard alluded to) bust their butts, often playing with injuries that today's prima donna's wouldn't dare play with. I appreciate Old Red Guard's story, but I've heard much better comparisons of today's players with those of long ago.

ODERED
12-24-2004, 03:05 AM
And, thank you RFS, nice reading :thumbup:

Jpup
12-24-2004, 03:07 AM
my eyes hurt.

:eek:

good story, but how about making some paragraphs.

MWM
12-24-2004, 03:19 AM
poor attempt at justifying today's NBA Of Baseball as something deserving of praise, by passing humour off as knowledge of the game. I'm sure just about anyone could google and come up with a hodgepodge of facts about players from the 30's.

You're freaking unbelievable. You don't know enough about baseball to even utter ORG's name, let alone criticize his knowledge of the game. He knew more about the game of baseball than you or I could ever hope to know in ten lifetimes. He had more passion and reverence for baseball's heritage and tradition that anyone this board has ever seen. Next time you start to open your trap about someone of which you know nothing about, do us all a favor and keep it to yourself. I'll stop now for fear of getting sent to the penalty box for a week over the holidays.

Phhhl
12-24-2004, 03:34 AM
Poetry. Thanks for reviving this extraordinary piece of writing by a legendary Reds fan.

And Merry Christmas to everyone at Redszone!

M2
12-24-2004, 03:34 AM
Beautiful writing, poor attempt at justifying today's NBA Of Baseball as something deserving of praise, by passing humour off as knowledge of the game. I'm sure just about anyone could google and come up with a hodgepodge of facts about players from the 30's. Lastly, I have every reason to believe that players from the 30's would have fared better than players today (if I recall, Old Red Guard say that players from the 30's wouldn't do squat today), because players back then weren't relying on steroids and tons of "performance enhancers", and they DID (as Old Red Guard alluded to) bust their butts, often playing with injuries that today's prima donna's wouldn't dare play with. I appreciate Old Red Guard's story, but I've heard much better comparisons of today's players with those of long ago.

Son, you just whizzed on the Alamo, spit on Plymouth Rock, defecated on Ground Zero.

You could burn a flag in the middle of a Veteran's Day parade and come out of it with more friends than you will after that post.

DunnersGrl44
12-24-2004, 03:35 AM
All I have to say is
I got your back MWM!
If you don't have anything nice to say, then.... BE QUIET
Why on earth would you make fun of someone's writing, when the person that wrote it, isn't even here to defend himself from the likes of you.

Larkin Fan
12-24-2004, 03:43 AM
Thanks for posting this, 62. ORG sure is missed. :cry:

pedro
12-24-2004, 04:25 AM
WOW. That's really compelling.

One thing I have to say is how it seems to me that in OLG's description of a guy who was just a ballplayer and done in by nature when he was 33 I can't help but think of Ken Griffey, and I find it oddy cathartic.

RedsBaron
12-24-2004, 07:20 AM
Thanks for reposting that RFS62. I agree that is the best post ever here. I've occassionally gone to the archives just to re-read that post.
I never did make a post to this year's RedsZone awards, but I agree with the comment someone made that the award for most missed poster should be re-named the "Old Red Guard" award.

Spitball
12-24-2004, 07:30 AM
I remember that great post. Thanks for bringing it back, 62.

GAC
12-24-2004, 08:16 AM
I too remember that post. Thanks for reposting it.

And I agree with RF...that should have been published somewhere.

I think we can all agree that MONEY has spoiled the game. The game has "evoved" into something that gives alot of fans a bad taste in their mouths.

I really don't know if alot of players today play for "the love of the game". It just seems that everything alot of players are doing these days is still buoyed around money.

MLB has done so much to destroy traditional rivalries also.

Today's players have so much, yet they feel they feel they owe the fans so little.

But looking at the conditions with today's players... do you think many of our "superstars" would have survived or made it, if they were transported back to that game of yesteryear? Could they have hacked it?

RFS62
12-24-2004, 09:32 AM
Regarding the need for paragraphs, I agree it is hard to read. I almost broke it up to make it easier to follow, but I decided not to, and to leave it exactly as I found it. You don't colorize Casablanca.

Many thanks to M2 for bringing this masterpiece to our attention and sticking it in the archives. I know a lot of people missed it the first time it was posted.

Jpup
12-24-2004, 09:35 AM
Regarding the need for paragraphs, I agree it is hard to read. I almost broke it up ot make it easier to follow, but I decided not to, and to leave it exactly as I found it. You don't colorize Casablanca.

Many thanks to M2 for bringing this masterpiece to our attention and sticking it in the archives. I know a lot of people missed it the first time it was posted.

Hey guys, i am guessing there is more to this post that I am seeing. What is the rest of the story about this post. Just to let you know, I wasn't trying to be an :allovrjr: I just thought it was hard to read. I thought the guy did a nice job writing it.

Sorry for being a newbie around here. :)

RFS62
12-24-2004, 09:44 AM
Hey guys, i am guessing there is more to this post that I am seeing. What is the rest of the story about this post. Just to let you know, I wasn't trying to be an :allovrjr: I just thought it was hard to read. I thought the guy did a nice job writing it.

Sorry for being a newbie around here. :)


The main thing that is "more than I am seeing" is how a lot of us remember the man who wrote it.

Old Red Guard was one of the most intelligent and thoughtful posters who ever contributed here at RedsZone. He was a bridge to the past, and many of us went far out of our way to read everything he posted.

His passing left a void, and we were very lucky to have had the privilege talk baseball and life with him.

That stream of consciousness piece seemed to resonate with a lot of people here who loved Old Red Guard, so we honor his memory by honoring one of the best things we've ever read.

RANDY IN INDY
12-24-2004, 09:50 AM
I think you may have just started a RedsZone Christmas tradition, RFS62, and it is a fitting tribute to a really great guy. :gac:

CougarQuest
12-24-2004, 09:57 AM
Beautiful writing, poor attempt at justifying today's NBA Of Baseball as something deserving of praise, by passing humour off as knowledge of the game. I'm sure just about anyone could google and come up with a hodgepodge of facts about players from the 30's. Lastly, I have every reason to believe that players from the 30's would have fared better than players today (if I recall, Old Red Guard say that players from the 30's wouldn't do squat today), because players back then weren't relying on steroids and tons of "performance enhancers", and they DID (as Old Red Guard alluded to) bust their butts, often playing with injuries that today's prima donna's wouldn't dare play with. I appreciate Old Red Guard's story, but I've heard much better comparisons of today's players with those of long ago.

And this is a perfect example of exactly why Old Red Guard is missed more than ever. Seems like whenever the board got negative about everything that happened with the Reds, or posters thought they were smarter than all the GM's in MLB, Old Red Guard would post something like RFS62 just posted. He had a knack of bringing back the reality of what baseball is really all about.

RANDY IN INDY
12-24-2004, 10:13 AM
And this is a perfect example of exactly why Old Red Guard is missed more than ever. Seems like whenever the board got negative about everything that happened with the Reds, or posters thought they were smarter than all the GM's in MLB, Old Red Guard would post something like RFS62 just posted. He had a knack of bringing back the reality of what baseball is really all about.

Well said, CQ!
:thumbup:

Krusty
12-24-2004, 10:14 AM
As mentioned, some publication needs to run that post.

A very fine piece of writing from a poster who we thought very highly of.

Falls City Beer
12-24-2004, 10:25 AM
I always get in debates with my colleagues over whether writing skills (not punctuation, mechanics and garbage like that), but real ability to convey is a natural talent or if it's developed. Stuff like this is more proof than I could ever offer up for the former. The guy clearly had it , whatever you choose to call it.

RedlegJake
12-24-2004, 11:28 AM
Wow. I really loved that post. Thanks. It sounds like something you'd hear from an old fan at a rest home, telling you his love for the game he used to know.

westofyou
12-24-2004, 11:57 AM
I appreciate Old Red Guard's story, but I've heard much better comparisons of today's players with those of long ago.

That's nice, any other dead writers who actually write from the experience of being there that you care to critque for the Board?

Maybe Harold Seymour, Lawrence Ritter, Fred Leib or Lee Allen?

Marty and Joe
12-24-2004, 12:27 PM
Thanks for pulling this out today, RFS. A perfect time for it.

:gac:

gonelong
12-24-2004, 12:30 PM
Thanks Coug.

GL

Raisor
12-24-2004, 02:56 PM
ODERED, welcome to my "ignore" list.

ochre
12-24-2004, 03:39 PM
I always get in debates with my colleagues over whether writing skills (not punctuation, mechanics and garbage like that), but real ability to convey is a natural talent or if it's developed. Stuff like this is more proof than I could ever offer up for the former. The guy clearly had it , whatever you choose to call it.

To me its more about the "story telling" ability than just writing. My great grandpa (born in 1900, or 1901 depending on who was asking) could tell the greatest stories about the most ordinary day to day thing from his life/childhood. His stories were always captivating. I think a lot of the modern necessities really rip the human tradition of story telling (Television, etc.). It is becoming a lost art.

wheels
12-24-2004, 06:56 PM
Oh man...ODERED.

You are utterly classless.

wheels
12-24-2004, 06:58 PM
To me its more about the "story telling" ability than just writing. My great grandpa (born in 1900, or 1901 depending on who was asking) could tell the greatest stories about the most ordinary day to day thing from his life/childhood. His stories were always captivating. I think a lot of the modern necessities really rip the human tradition of story telling (Television, etc.). It is becoming a lost art.

Very well put.

Conveying thoughts creatively while using one's own language.

I loved how ORG used the term "Ripsnort".

That word has now officially entered my lexicon.

nyjwagner
12-24-2004, 07:29 PM
Baseball is powerful for how it makes us feel. If we choose to focus on the gluttony...then we will look at it with shame and disbelief, and disgust. That post by ORG created the image of the game that we love, and our ability to share that image, at least for today, creates the hope that we all have for it. it helps us recall those times when we were oblivious to the truths of the business. The truths were always ugly, it is only that we didnt know that made it pure. Reading that restored that beauty I remember when I watched the Reds as a kid.

Anyway....check out http://lovemyteam.com

If someone will post that message there I might be able to get in print down the road. I could easily copy it, but I feel like someone who knew him should choose to do it. Thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Bigg Red Smokey
12-24-2004, 08:26 PM
Rest In Peace
Old Red :cry:

Hubba
12-25-2004, 01:05 PM
I also suggest that you take your own advice.
You're freaking unbelievable. You don't know enough about baseball to even utter ORG's name, let alone criticize his knowledge of the game. He knew more about the game of baseball than you or I could ever hope to know in ten lifetimes. He had more passion and reverence for baseball's heritage and tradition that anyone this board has ever seen. Next time you start to open your trap about someone of which you know nothing about, do us all a favor and keep it to yourself. I'll stop now for fear of getting sent to the penalty box for a week over the holidays.

Matt700wlw
12-25-2004, 01:07 PM
Anything I post is the best post on redszone :mhcky21:

baseballPAP
12-25-2004, 01:38 PM
A beautiful piece, and probably more true than any of us realize. As a college project, I set off to interview several former major league players in the central Ohio area. I didn't get very far before realizing I was at the tip of an incredibly HUGE molehill, but I did get to interview a man who was living in a nearby town who was the nephew of a former player. The player was George Kahler, he was a pitcher for the Indians in the 1910s. He died young, but he must have been one of the booky types....he kept a journal from his playing days. Now I won't glorify it, it was mostly unreadable. There were a few awesome passages, but I never found a way to get them on paper to suit myself. He did mention a lot of the nasty conditions though, and 24 hour train rides weren't uncommon apparently. I found out from his nephew that he was from a well to do family, so he may have been a little spoiled BEFORE he got to the show....how's that for a change?

Anyway, I'm too new to remember ORG, but please, if the man is gone, show him the respect he earned!

CougarQuest
12-25-2004, 03:05 PM
Thanks Coug.

GL

Just trying to help

NC Reds fan
12-25-2004, 03:57 PM
It is obvious that ORG knew this game from a child. My fondest memories are of Bench, Rose, Morgan, Perez just beating up NL pitching. It seems as though the game has been tainted since with money, prestige, and total butts playing the game. If I could only get back to my own innocence and forget the business side of this whole mess.

NC Reds fan
12-25-2004, 04:01 PM
Old Red Guard we salute You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DannyB
12-25-2004, 07:38 PM
I agree thats a great post,but my favorite is the Santo Alcala spring traing trip from a few years back.