SI opened their vaults this morning, and released a gem of an article from over fifty years ago. The nod to yesteryear was in response to Brandon McCarthy’s comebacker-induced trip to the ER. I thought it was an excellent article, and really enjoyed reading the writing style from fifty years ago. One paragraph stuck out:
“He undressed slowly, reflecting that manifest calmness which has characterized his career and his life. Around him were the trappings of boondock baseball. DO NOT ASSAULT UMPIRES, the bulletin board warned, FILTHY LANGUAGE IS DETRIMENTAL NOT ONLY TO BASEBALL BUT TO THE PERSON USING IT. PAY YOUR DEBTS OR FACE SEVERE PENALTIES. From a wall radio came loud renditions of contemporary musical culture (“I love you, I love you, I love you in oooooooh so many, many ways”). Players arrived in little clusters, and the room began to resound with the all-purpose four-letter words which form the very foundation of the English language whenever soldiers and ballplayers get together in their underclothes.”
It isn’t one of The Greatest Quotes in Baseball History, and isn’t enshrined in Cooperstown. However, that simple paragraph of 112 words evokes as strong an image of a minor-league clubhouse as do any of the scenes from Bull Durham. The article also revisited and opened up the story of Herb Score for reexamination.
As a kid, I knew the story about Herb Score, as taught by the pundits of the day. Herb was a sad story, because he “lost his nerve.” Reading the 1961 article today, in the era of arthroscopically repaired knees and Dodger pitchers becoming synonyms for new elbows, I can’t help but think that ol’ Herb might have saved his career if modern medicine was available. Reading between the lines, it sure seems like he had blown his elbow, and his compensation technique cost him his accuracy. We’ll never know.
It absolutely amazes me that Giancarlo Stanton is knocking balls out of the park in September after getting “loose objects” taken out of his knee in early July. It’s one of those things that I doubt I’ll ever take for granted. Pause and think for a moment, and if you’re of a certain age, you might remember the days of having a rotary-dial telephone attached to the kitchen wall. Contrast that behemoth to the recent announcement out of Cupertino. Contrast Herb Score to Giancarlo Stanton.
In my not too distant dotage, I may bitch and moan about instant replay the way I bitch and moan about the designated hitter today. However, the ability of elite athletes to repair broken parts of their bodies and return to top-level competition will never cease to be a source of amazement and wonder for me. I can’t wait to see what comes next.