The wonderful, wacky world of baseballPublished 8:01pm Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Every once in a while, I decide to stray away from the serious world that we live in, and I find myself drifting into where I feel most comfortable: writing about baseball.
We live in a society where we take everything seriously, so for a moment, how about we just laugh and enjoy some fun stuff?
No discussion about what athlete got arrested, what sports team is better, or when will the NCAA become extinct. I will not address the potential unionization of college athletes, because it is not going to happen.
It is time to instill a little levity in what has become a way too serious sports column.
I am going to tell you why baseball is still the game of choice and why the past “boys of summer” had a lasting impression on me.
Here are a few interesting fellows who never quite grew up:
Unless you are a baseball purist – or you are around my age – you will not recognize the names, so just enjoy the anecdote about the person.
I went to a lot of Pacific Coast League games back in the mid-1950s. One player who I always enjoyed watching play was Casey Wise. In four major leauge seasons from 1957-1960, Casey had batting averages of .179, .197, .171 and .147, or a four -year composite of .174. This may not be the worst major league hitting record of all time, but it’s definitely in contention.
At the time, Masanori Murakami was – with the possibility of Yogi Berra – the only player in the big leagues who did not speak English. If you ever had the privilege of listening to Yogi speak, you will concur.
Albie Pearson was the leadoff batter for the Angels back in 1961. Had he been only six inches taller Albie would have been almost 5’11″. You can do the math.
The World Series began back in 1903. Only one pitcher has ever pitched a perfect game, and that was Don Larsen of the Yankees.
That perfect game came in 1956, and I watched it on our black and white television. Like the continuing popularity of Miley Cyrus and the political career of Barack Obama, there is no rational explanation for this. It just is.
In 1966, both Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale decided to hold out of spring training for a better contract. They did this collectively, and the total amount was a whopping $1.05 million to be divided evenly. Drysdale was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, while Koufax was elected in 1972.
I was again privileged to see both of them pitch for the Dodgers. There will never be a better lefty-righty combination in baseball.
Tracy Stallard threw the pitch that Roger Maris hit for his 61st home run in 1961.
That event saved Stallard’s career from the profound and perpetual anonymity it so richly deserved.
Remember Casey Wise? How about Hal Griggs, who pitched for the Washington Senators from 1956-1959.
Hal was to pitching as Casey was to hitting. That is to say, nothing. In four seasons, Griggs had a record of 6-26 with an ERA of 5.50. Enough said.
Some of my favorite names were “Spook” Jacobs, “Cot” Deal and “Sad Sam” Jones. There were many brothers who played at the same time.
My favorite names of brothers were Ted, Ed and Bob Sadowski, Mike and Jim Baxes, and Solly and Sammy Drake. I probably need to mention the O’Brian brothers, Ed and John.
Whatever they all had, brother … it ran in the family.
Well there you have it, my little bit of levity for you.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter @brucemeyers11.