Then and Now

In Trivia and Nostalgia on June 18, 2009 at 4:09 pm


I normally don’t attend inter-league contests on the principal that the National and American leagues should not meet until the World Series( I am the” Sports Purist” after all, an unsolicited  name fashioned for me by my friend Lin ). But a friend of a friend came up with a “club box” ( the Giants BTW have an absurd 14 tiers of ticket prices) for this past Tuesday’s contest between the Giants and the Angels and so I said “what the heck” and went to the game.

Seats were great. The game less so. Giants fell behind early 7-1 leaving “Tom” and me plenty of time to reminisce about baseball’s Golden Age. I think we got started in O’Neils bar before the game where, under the influence of a couple of Guinesses,  I had to tell a young couple decked out in bright red, garish Angels gear that the face of the Angels franchise in the 1960s was a phenom shortstop by the name of Jim Fregosi. Of course they had never heard of him. It never ceases to astonish me how little people, who say they are fans, know about the history of the game.

Anyway, during the game Tom and I got on the subject of the paltry salaries of  the players of yesteryear. I brought up the name of Larry Colton, a pitcher for the Phils who, after leaving the Phils, clerked at Northside Books in Berkeley Ca. That was in the early 70s and he probably made about $3.25 an hour. But that didn’t matter to us. We used to go talk to him all the time, just in awe that a major league pitcher was down there standing behind the counter at the local bookstore.

Duke Snider – as Doris Kearns Goodwin’ mentions in her book on the Brooklyn Dodgers Wait til Next Year – was a mailman in the off-season. Can you imagine growing up in those days in Brooklyn and seeing Duke Snider at your door with a package ? This is just one more example of how the game has changed over the years. In the old days, the players were just like you and me, getting up every day and going to spiritually taxing, hum-drum jobs. The economic gulf  between most players and fans didn’t exist,  and doctors, as they should, made more than pitchers.

 It was a different game then.


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