Great post, Old Red Guard. Reminds me of the stories my grandfather told me of ballplayers he played against on factory teams in the 20's, 30's and 40's. He said he started playing with his older brother as a kid (12), but was treated like a man, and given no slack. He caught many games with nothing but a worn out catchers mitt with a handkerchief stuffed in a big tear in the leather and a mask. A chest protector and shin guards were luxuries that he only acquired late in his playing days. He was hit over the head with a baseball bat in a brawl, and later in life, had to have surgery to clip a nerve that had caused him terrible headaches and loss of sleep for years. He was a blacksmith by trade and a farmer by choice. Baseball was his passion. He just worked and played through the pain, cause that was what you did then. He was paid two dollars a game to play on that factory team. He said that he would have payed them to play. Baseball was his game, the game that he loved. He was always puzzled by the modern ballplayer, and the softness that he saw in them. How could you not play when they are paying you that kind of money. He didn't understand, and come to think of it, I don't either. I miss him, and the great stories dearly.
Brings back a lot of treasured memories for me, Old Red Guard.