Sam

Posts Tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’

Carmen Fanzone: Renaissance Man

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

In the early 1970s the Cubs had a utility infielder by the name of Carmen Fanzone. Fanzone bounced around the Red Sox farm system for several years before making the big league club in 1970 but he was traded to the Cubs prior to the 1971 season. Plagued by injuries Fanzone never realized the potential he showed as a young player coming out of Detroit in the early 1960s and he was out of baseball by 1974.

The interesting thing about Fanzone was his off-season avocation: professional trumpet player. Fanzone played in Jazz clubs in Chicago, gave lessons and at one point was even a member of the Tonight Show orchestra. On road trips with the Cubs, while most of the other players were out on the town, Fanzone would be holed up in his room playing scales on his trumpet.

When I think about Carmen Fanzone I think about some of the other uniquely well-rounded and talented ballplayers of his era including Curt Flood, an accomplished painter or Denny McClain, an organist who was good enough to record two albums with Capitol Records. Reggie Smith, an all-star outfielder with a host of teams, was proficient on several instruments including, the cello, violin, clarinet and saxophone. On the road with the Red Sox or Cardinals, Smith would often forgo the bars for the art galleries. Steve Stone was a state–wide championship bowler and ping-pong player. And the list goes on and on….

Well-rounded ballplayers like Fanzone just don’t exist anymore for the simple reason that society nowadays attaches value to and amply rewards rigid specialization. Athletes are not immune and it is rare now to hear of a professional baseball player who can do anything well but play baseball. We seldom learn interesting details about a player – simply because there are none to tell. We have only statistics.

It was a better game when Carmen Fanzone played.

Happy 4th of July

Advertisements

Post 3-11 Sports purist

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 at 5:29 am

It has been awhile since I have written anything. Living here in Tokyo we endured the earthquake of March 11 ( what is now being referred to here as ‘3-11″ ) and have been collectively paralyzed by everything that followed, most notably Fukushima. But life is slowly getting back to normal here: the trains are packed during the morning commute; the spate of post-disaster TV news programs, some of them very good, have given way to the insipid variety programs that define Japanese TV; people are thinking about foreign travel, hot springs and food again. So when I received an email the other day from a friend bemoaning Bud Selig’s plan to expand the playoffs I realized it was time for the Sports Purist to get back to “normal” too.

Since the season opened, there has been a lot to opine about including the Barry Bonds trial, the brutal beating of a fan outside Dodger Stadium , Manny Ramirez’s very un-graceful “retirement.” But let’s start with Bud Selig.

I have never understood Bud Selig. Selig has always been a self-professed baseball fan, frequently talking about his love for those great Milwaukee Braves teams of the late 1950s while a kid growing up in Milwaukee. He has been a lifelong friend of Henry Aaron which means that he can’t be all that bad. Or at least you would think. Yet Selig has done more to ruin the game during his tenure than any commissioner before him. Under Selig we have seen:

– Inter-league play which deprives the World Series of considerable mystique.
– World Series games frequently played into late October, early November.
– Rampant drug use.
– A gimmicky winner-takes-all format for the all-star game.
– A tie in an all-star game.
– Hallowed baseball records broken by ball players on steroids.
– Two Red Sox World Series championships ( right there that tells you that something is out of kilter)
– A disastrous players strike in 1994, until the strike one of baseballs most exciting seasons ever.
– Regular season games played on foreign soil including an “opening day” in Tokyo
– An astronomical rise in players salaries and ticket prices so that the demographic in any major league park nowadays is decidedly white and middle class ( Dodger Stadium is not a ballpark. It is a drug-infested neighborhood).

Anyway, I can do without Bud Selig. Even if he is a friend of Henry Aaron’s.