Jul 27, 2010

They don't make 'em like they used to

Ballplayers, I mean. They certainly don't name 'em like they used to. Three-Finger Brown, Snuffy Stirnweiss, Burleigh Grimes, Henie Manush, Nap Lajoie, Rube Waddell, Dizzy Dean, etc... THOSE were baseball names. Now we got A-Rod and K-Rod and XYZ-Rod. I dunno.

But I was looking at some old pictures on Baseball-Reference last night and some of these guys had the map of the world etched on their faces.


photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Look at that guy!  Crooked face, huge nose, protruding ears and ham-hocks for hands.  THAT was a ballplayer, right there!  Helps that the Flying Dutchman, as he was called, was probably the best shortstop ever to play the game.  He may not have looked pretty, but some people used some pretty words to describe his play.  "Nobody ever saw anything graceful or picturesque about Wagner on the diamond. His movements have been likened to the gambols of a caracoling elephant. He is ungainly and so bowlegged that when he runs his limbs seem to be moving in a circle after the fashion of a propeller. But he can run like the wind." - New York American (November 19, 1907)


photo credit: Wikimedia Comons
I don't think there has been another player who every played the game who looked like Hack Wilson.  5'6" of pure alcohol-driven fury.  He looked like a fire hydrant or a keg of beer resting on two legs.  He had a massive (for the time) 18" neck while wearing size 6 shoes.  But he could hit.  Especially in 1930 when he drove in a record 191 runs for the Cubbies.  Hack, an infamous drinker, was one of the inspirations for Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own.  "I never played drunk. Hung over, yes, but never drunk." - Hack Wilson.


photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
There's Old Pete in his prime.  Looks older than your grandfather.  And your grandfather has been dead for 25 years.  That was Grover Cleveland Alexander.  But he was harder than a coffin nail.  He spent most of 1918 in France in WWI as an artillery officer.  Came back with a case of shell shock, a loss of hearing and he was prone to seizures.  So he compensated by drinking even more than he did before he went to war.  In 1926 he was 39 and looking like 89.  And his team, the Cubs, were tired of his drinking and insubordination.  So they sold him to St. Louis who went on to win the NL pennant.  And the old man shined in the World Series that year.  He pitched 2 complete game victories over Babe Ruth's Yankees in games 2 and 6.  And then, most likely still drunk from the celebration the night before, he came into game 7 in relief and finished up the game and finished off the Yankees for the Series title.  After the major leagues were done with him at age 43, he went on to pitch for the House of David (you really should click that link) until 1938 before his hard drinking eventually killed him in 1950. "What do you want me to do? Let those sons of bitches stand up there and think on my time." - Old Pete Alexander.

Now what do we got:  This?

photo credit: Details Magazine

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Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. A-Rod...more like Gay-Rod!  But, ahem, go Yankees!!!

14 comments:

RW said...

That's just about the most stupid ass thing I ever saw. What the Farco Barnes??

B.E. Earl said...

RW - Yeah, that was from his big photo shoot with Details Magazine about a year and a half ago. He still catches a bit of shit for it. Like now. See?

badgerdaddy said...

That's my favourite baseball post of yours. Those old characters are fascinating! Brilliant photo of the fella swinging, too.

Mrs. Hall said...

The whole house of david thing was cool-starting a baseball club out of a commune. Don't get the whole no sex thing-that's just wrong.

but hey, I once read a seven page interview with derek jeter in playboy.

most boring interview ever. 20 minutes of my life i'll never get back. can't imagine a-rod is more interesting.

Slyde said...

wow, you certainly DO try your best to throw in a fair amount of baseball AND gayness in just about every post! well done!

B.E. Earl said...

badger - That is amazing, isn't it? The photo has fallen into public domain, but I wonder who the original photographer was.

Holly - I'm a big Yankee fan and Derek Jeter fan, and even I say that Derek Jeter is the most boring human being on the planet in interviews. But it's a facade. You can tell by the way he acts in the field and the way others talk about him that he is an extremely funny guy. But he learned a long time ago to be savvy with his public persona. He never says the wrong thing. This makes him boring, but never controversial. It's his thing.

Slyde - I have to agree with you on that one. Yeah...

Heff said...

Ty Cobb, baby !!!

B.E. Earl said...

Heff - Ty was a character unto himself. There was no one like Cobb. Off the field and on the field. No one.

white rabbit said...

Honus? Hack? What kind of parents did these people have to give them such half witted names?

Makes Grover sound half way sensible by comaparison.

Always Home and Uncool said...

I don't care how many homers he hits, A-Rod rivals only Jeff Kent in terms of talented infield tools.

B.E. Earl said...

Wabbit - Honus was a nickname. He was born Johannes Peter Wagner of German immigrants. His mother called him Hans, which eventually turned into Honus for some reason. There.

Uncool - Jeff Kent, Hall of Famer? One day...

Mrs. Hall said...

Yeah, that makes sense. Also, part of the issue is that sports heros are seen as some sort of role model-like they have philosophical insight or special moral knowledge.

which is redonk.

just cause you can play doesn't mean you have other gifts upstairs. in fact, the better you play, the more stupider you might be. baseball may be the only place that has exceptions though. a lot of the game is not won through brute strength and killer reflexes.

but yes. Jeter is boring as hell. :)

Bruce said...

Baseball lives its best, when it lives in the past. I am sure that someday in 2075, A-Rod will be looked back on as a mythic figure. Today he is considered a joke of sorts. Much the way folks probably dispised Ty Cobb back in the day.

I finished off our little media room where I have stored my collection of LaserDiscs and VHS documentary series that I have been collecting over the years. Started watching Ken Burns' "Baseball" (lotus07 loves anything by Ken Burns), all 9 volumes of it. The game as it started was so uproarious and inovative and plagued with scandel, that it is amazing that it survived. But at its heart is the American spirit, of lazy summer days spent in a park catching a ball. For that I love it, but I don't go to major league games due to the cost and the hype. Best to appreciate it for what it is......a good game.

B.E. Earl said...

Bruce - we watched the episode about the 1930's last week. Great stuff!