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westofyou
02-18-2007, 01:20 PM
I tried to bump this from the archives but couldn't so I'm reposting it.


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


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

By Old Red Guard


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 serious. 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 rip snorts 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 little 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 twenties 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 in particular to a terrible team. You play a couple years, your numbers aren't that bad but the 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.

MWM
02-18-2007, 01:33 PM
I never tire of reading that wonderful piece of literature.

pedro
02-18-2007, 01:51 PM
I never tire of reading that wonderful piece of literature.

That really ought to be published.

RFS62
02-18-2007, 02:09 PM
Yep. That's a great piece of writing.

TheBurn
02-18-2007, 02:44 PM
:redszone: :clap:

jojo
02-18-2007, 02:54 PM
wow...thats good stuff

redsfan30
02-18-2007, 03:10 PM
Good stuff.

RedsBaron
02-18-2007, 03:12 PM
I only wish most published baseball articles were nearly as good as ORG's post.

BoydsOfSummer
02-18-2007, 03:20 PM
That is outstanding. I got a little misty reading that.

StillFunkyB
02-18-2007, 03:39 PM
Greatest. Post. Ever.

OnBaseMachine
02-18-2007, 04:01 PM
Great post.

jojo
02-18-2007, 04:05 PM
I've only been around since about Turkey day of '06. I know this forum was named in ORG's honor but know very little history. Would some of the guys who were around in the beginning care to give some background/history about ORG and maybe some of the other "oldtimers"?

Razor Shines
02-18-2007, 04:25 PM
I've only been around since about Turkey day of '06. I know this forum was named in ORG's honor but know very little history. Would some of the guys who were around in the beginning care to give some background/history about ORG and maybe some of the other "oldtimers"?

I was thinking the same thing.

Yachtzee
02-18-2007, 04:46 PM
That post never gets old. It's like Redszone's version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," only for baseball season.

FlyingPig
02-18-2007, 05:20 PM
Makes me miss my dad and the stories he used to tell me of the "good old baseball days" when I was a kid..

thank you for posting that..

Outshined_One
02-18-2007, 05:23 PM
Terrific read. :)

Sean_CaseyRules
02-18-2007, 07:06 PM
Another vote for greatest post ever

savafan
02-18-2007, 07:58 PM
Still brings a tear to my eye. Does anyone have a picture of the GABP brick?

KittyDuran
02-18-2007, 08:22 PM
Still brings a tear to my eye. Does anyone have a picture of the GABP brick?Here's the thread w/pic and location...

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34411&highlight=brick

vaticanplum
02-18-2007, 08:33 PM
Here's the thread w/pic and location...

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34411&highlight=brick

Wow...I've read this post before, but I've never seen the brick. What a great quotation. Forgive my ignorance, but where does that come from? Was it an ORG quote or is it from somewhere else?

TOBTTReds
02-18-2007, 08:36 PM
I've only been around since about Turkey day of '06. I know this forum was named in ORG's honor but know very little history. Would some of the guys who were around in the beginning care to give some background/history about ORG and maybe some of the other "oldtimers"?

I second this. I need some more info on him!

paintmered
02-18-2007, 08:46 PM
Wow...I've read this post before, but I've never seen the brick. What a great quotation. Forgive my ignorance, but where does that come from? Was it an ORG quote or is it from somewhere else?

It was an excerpt from one of his poems. Give me a few minutes and I'll try and dig up the poem in its entirety.

Edit: I was unable to find it. I think the board crashes over the years have taken their toll. Most of the links to threads I searched for are no longer valid. :(

paintmered
02-18-2007, 08:56 PM
"I'd see a ballgame and he'd see a ballet, an opera and a metaphor for life being lived out on the diamond."

RFS62
02-18-2007, 09:04 PM
"I'd see a ballgame and he'd see a ballet, an opera and a metaphor for life being lived out on the diamond."

That was a quote from his son, also a poster here for a while.

RFS62
02-18-2007, 09:05 PM
He wrote some fantastic stuff about his father and his own youth too.

We were very lucky to know him.

He was a baseball man for the ages.

Phhhl
02-18-2007, 09:14 PM
Thanks WOY.

Virginia Beach Reds
02-18-2007, 11:21 PM
I loved ORG.

gonelong
02-19-2007, 10:56 AM
Hello all. I've logged on to thank you for your respects to my father. I couldn’t get it to work, however. It took my screenname RoyalsReds, but says I don’t have access. So I figured I’d get through this way if you don’t mind. I’m writing about my dad. You knew him as Old Red Guard. To us kids (he had 5 of us, 3 boys, 2 girls and 10 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren) he was Poppa. My brother and Mom told me about you guys - I had to look you up but I was stunned to log on and find RIP to my dad was the first post listed. Wow! I read through it yesterday but had to wait til today to write. I cried like a baby. Well, what can I say? Poppa was always telling us stories about baseball - in fact I used to cringe when he'd get started. I'd give my left arm to hear those stories now. He was my coach, my son's coach and my grandson's coach. I read about the oven mitts. That's true. It weas how he began every spring. And he'd belt the ball at you. Except it was a rubber ball! He wouldn't tell us the first day and the new players would duck - the rest of us would laugh our tails off. He was hard nosed. His brother lives in Loveland and tells me the time they were playing in Legion ball long ago and my uncle stole second. Poppa was the shortstop and trotted over and told him hey, nice job but its a foul ball - whereupon my uncle headed back to first and my dad promptly ran over and tagged him out. Uncle Russ still hollers about that. But I'm your brother! To which Poppa always replied - Brother hell, this is baseball!

He was a curmudgeon. He hated everything new. Then 2 days later he'd know more about it than anyone in the family. Damn computers! Everythings computerized he'd growl. Then I'd get an email from him with a powerpoint attachment. Damn cable TV, he'd growl. Then he'd call and invite me over to watch one of the umpteen hundred and five sports channels he'd subscribed to on his flat screen.

He was born in 1929, in October. He always said he was born and the world went to hell in a handbasket. He could flat out write. Stories, poetry, letters. All us kids have a bit of his talent. I can write reasonably but not the way he could make you see things. He quit school in the 7th grade, or maybe the 8th. He said that was about the equivalent of high school and high school was like college today and college then was like having a masters degree today. He was the smartest person I've ever known - he read everything from cereal boxes to books. If it had print he'd read it. But his poetry is just great. He wrote about baseball - and life and love and mostly always it lifts you up - he was always funny or optimistic about everything - even when he grouched it was with a twist that made you see things differently. That was really his talent. I'd see a ballgame and he'd see a ballet, an opera and a metaphor for life being lived out on the diamond.

Anyway, thank you - each one who wrote a kind response. I took the liberty of printing it all out for mom to read. She was always his practical half - she'd keep him grounded and he'd give her the chance to fly once in awhile. And right now she's still lost. They were married 56 years. Maybe your words will help her smile. She made a 25.00 contribution - just a thank you.


You can address replies to Mrs. Marie Elledge at elledge@magiccablepc.com. She will respond but it may take her a bit – usually me or my brother have to be here to help her with the computer.


Thank You,


C.Jay Elledge, Jr.


I found this in the archives, but not much else. We have lost the "Another Era" poem his son posted. If anyone was smart enough to save it, please post it.

GL

chicoruiz
02-22-2007, 09:18 PM
If I ever make it to heaven, I like to think there will be a replica of Crosley Field there, and occasionally I'll find myself watching a game seated next to ORG.

Of course, as the old joke goes, there won't be baseball in heaven because of the lack of umpires..:)

Yachtzee
02-22-2007, 09:30 PM
If I ever make it to heaven, I like to think there will be a replica of Crosley Field there, and occasionally I'll find myself watching a game seated next to ORG.

Of course, as the old joke goes, there won't be baseball in heaven because of the lack of umpires..:)

They went Questec eons ago. ;)

GAC
03-03-2007, 04:27 AM
I never tire of reading that post by ORG. But I never, until now, saw the response by his son. Thanks GL for posting it. ORG was a couple years younger then my Dad, and I can relate to his son's memories/recollections of his Dad. As a kid growing up you take those things for granted and really don't cherish those moments. And then they are gone and it's all you have, and then they really mean so much more.

37red
03-29-2007, 04:17 PM
I'm late seeing the thread but I always fade back in time when I read that post. It brings me back to the times out in the yard with my dad listening to the game on the radio. It's fun to look back and laugh about how different baseball was when we were young. A lot like the movie "The Sandlot". I can see we're all getting the itch, everyone's back. Let's Play Ball.