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October 06, 1974 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-10-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

editors:
laura berman
howie brick
contributing editor:
mary long

Sunday

mogazine

inside:
page four-books
page five-swami
page six-week in
review

Number 5 Page Three Octo
FEATUF

ber 6, 1974
tES

Ba

se

then
By DAN BORUS
DAVE BRISTOL is a stockily built
man with a Marine brush cut
and an ability to chew tobacco un-
der any circumstances. When he's
not getting his hair clipped or ex-
ercising his jaws, Dave Bristol
coaches third base for the Mon-
treal Expos baseball team, a job
which allows him to get out and
about.
So when a stateside television
announcer asked him how he liked
the predominately French Cana-
dian city, Bristol had a ready ans-
wer. Said Dave, "It's the best god-
damn baseball town in America.,,
While Bristol's geography is
cockeyed, his notion of the link be-
tween baseball and America is as
solid as a line drive to the left-
field corner. Despite a number of
pretenders to the crown, baseball
remains the "great national game."
Critics of the sport attack its
slow pace, its over-reliance on sta-
tistics and tradition, and its
lengthy schedule. But these are
precisely the elements which in-
sure its continuation as the Great
American Game.
T OCKED AWAY IN the pages of
any good baseball encyclone-
dia - Grosset & Dunlap's sunerb
The Snorts Encyclopedia: Baseball,
for examole, is t book that can rest
proudly on any shelf - is a wealth
of information on America's cul-
tural history, social mobility, civil
rights, corporate structure, charac-
ter, and, above all, style.
Far though they may deny their
interest, Americans project into
their national game the same feel-
ings and concerns they project
through their movies, recordings,
books, occupations, and clothing.
No other sport has the breadth or
the history to so completely mirror
American life.
As a result of baseball's proxim-
ity to the national pulse, each era
of American history has a baseball
team which marks that period of
American life, both in baseball
s t y 1 e a n d team composition.
Though by no means the most suc-
cessful squad of the period, the
team of the decade is the one
which has swept public fancy.
* * *
WHEN JOHN RUSKIN isn't work-
ing the back docks at Smith-

balk A
9ationa l
Schraff Paper Company, he's down
the road a bit at Busch Memorial
Stadium watching his beloved Car-
dinals. When he talks about them
he just lets the words come out
in streams, not real sentences.
"Or, I'd say I started watching
the Redbirds (everybody in St.
Louis calls them the Redbirds) in
1930. Never liked the Browns (St.
Louis' other team). They won the
pennant that year, real easy like.
But those Philly A's skunked them
in the Series. But the next year,
it was the same two clubs, you
know. And it looked bad for the
Cardinals.
"But they had this little guy with
the funniest hawk nose you ever

re flection

spirit

in

of

sport

the most socially mobile, moving
towards a fuller integration with
the mainstream of American cul-
ture.
Many championship teams of
this period had the proper ethnic
mix and baseball excellence to
qualify as the team of the period,
yet baseball still lacked a national
image. The sport was fiercely cele-
brated communally, but the na-
tional scope was still missing.
* * *
Not until the establishment of a
national homogenous culture did
baseball truly become the national
game. The First World War and
the pursuant affluence transform-
ed America from a nation steeped

Though they may deny their interest, Ameri-
cans project into their national game the same
feelings and concerns they project through their
movies, recordings, books, occupations, and
clothing. No other sport has the breadth or the
hi, torv' to so comoletely mirror American life.

did see, Pepper Martin. Well he
ran that Mickey Cochrane and
that whole A's club crazy. Did ev-
ervthing. That was the best per-
formance I ever stw.
"Cochrane lost a lot of money
in the crash, did you know that?
Well. he did, and this here Martin
was a noor rookie. Rode to train-
inv camo on the back of a freight
train. Just the funniest thing I
saw in those days. After that it
didn't matter what the Cardinals
did T was with them all the way.
Never forgot that Martin: Never
will either."
-ASEBALL'S INFANCY is a large-
ly uncharted area and the ear-
lv years of organized baseball are
hard to digest and analyze, owing
to the confusion in rules, scoring,
and the scarcity of completely ac-
curate renorts. In those early years
(1880-1919) Organized Baseball was
largely the province of Irishmen,
Germans, and Jews who played un-
der Irish names for obvious rea-
sons. Not coincidentally, it was
precisely these groups which were

in what historians term productive
values with their emphasis of
thrift, frugality, and emotional re-
pression to consumptive values
which stress spending, enjoyment,
and emotional release.
Baseball followed suit. Having
suffered its crisis of confidence
from the infamous "fixed" 1919
World Series, organized baseball
responded with its brand of Re-
publican normalcy and emotive
liberation, a combination which
restored the public's confidence in
the game and put the public's
money in the game's pocket.
REPUBLICAN NORMALCY w a s
personified by the newly nam-
ed Commissioner of the game,
Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis.
Landis, was a non-nonsense type
who ruled Organized baseball with
autocratic touches. His strict de-
meanor and espousal of old vir-
tues restored a measure of confi-
dence in the Grand Old Game.
Emotive liberation in style was
the password of the decade's team,
the Yankees, and their mainstay
and guiding light, Babe Ruth.
Whereas teams prior to the Twen-
ties scraped for their runs in the
frugal, thrifty manner of precise
singles and even more precise
bunts, the Yanks, or Bronx.Bomb-
ers as sportswriters so aptly chris-
tened them, were explosive and
wild. The lineup was the first to
earn the overworked cliche, "Mur-
derer's Row, but earn it the Yanks
did. In 1927, by far their most pro-
ductive year, they led the majors
in every offensive category but
doubles. They were, with their
flashy home runs and flashy
bankrolls, the team of the Jazz
Age.
The game's most popular and
identifiable figure is most surely
Babe Ruth, a gargantuan man who
accomplished gargantuan feats in
the course of a gargantuan life. If
Fitzgerald did not entertain an un-
fortunate prejudice a g a i n s t
baseball as a setting for fiction, he
would have created the Babe.
UTH WAS NEVER at a loss for
a reply, never anywhere but at
home as he sauntered from speak-
easy to speakeasy in his off-the-
field hours. He was a man who
knew his own worth. One day a re-
porter questioned Ruth on his an-

hands when this rawboned kid
named Dean struck out nine
straight World Champion Philadel-
phia A's in the spring of 1931. But
they also knew he was a bit flaky.
He had charged through the
streets of St. Joseph Missouri this
summer before driving at full
blast. When a sheriff drove past
the other way yelling, "Hey this is
a one way street." The kid yelled
back, "How many ways do you
think I'm going?" For his logic, he
earned a night in custody.
He was only Cardinal property
by virtue of the fact that he had
been booted out of the Army be-
cause the Army knew he was more
than they could handle. The kid
had been put on the manure de-
tail, and when he was ordered to
deposit the contents of his wheel-
barrow on the flowerbeds of his
immediate commanding officer, he
replied, "I'm sorry, sir, the general
comes first. But you're number two
on my shit list."
JN TIME HE WOULD pitch the
Cardinals to the 1934 World
Championship and into the Hall of
Fame at Cooperstown. Just like he
told everybody he would. As the
kid said, "It ain't braggin' If Ole
Diz can do it."
* * *
In 1934, Dizzy Dean was just
what the doctor ordered. In days
highlighted by little to eat, little to
do, bank failures and dust bowls,
Dizzy Dean was stringing along,
having a great time and letting ev-
eryone else in on the joke. His
team was built for him and it was
built for the Hard Times.
Known as the Gashouse Gang
for their rough play and the omni-
dirty uniforms, the St. Louis Cardi-
nals hustled, scratched and stole
their runs and victories, challeng-
ing everybody along the way.
Their's was not the frugal game of
the early years nor was it the aloof
power of the Yankees.
The Gashouse Gang was the first
championship club to have the nu-
cleus of their starters from the
South and Southwest.
They were poor WASP's from the
dustbowl and shantytowns who
honestly admitted that if they
weren't blessed with the ability to
hit, run, and throw, they would be
in the breadlines.
Their reign was a short one, but
is one which is always mentioned
by erstwhile fans as baseball's
most colorful one.
THE FORTIES HAVE always been
referred to as the decade of
maturity in which all cultural
trends solidified in the pluralistic
society, heightened by America's
emergence as a world power.
Baseball finally integrated all
those who had not fully enjoyed
free reign in the game. For the
first time there was a preponder-
ance of Poles and Italians, and in
1947 the first black. Lopats, Berras,
Furillos, and Robinsons poulated
the major league rosters the same
way that Lopats, Berras, Furillos
and Robinsons dotted the lists of
university professors, business ex-
ecutives, and politicians.
Perhaps the team which best
captured this new ethnic mix was
the Dodgers. With Carl Furillo pa-
trolling right field, Jackie Robin-
son, the game's first black, at sec-
ond. PeeWee Reese at short, and

Carl Erskine, Don Newcombe,
Ralph Branca on the mound, the
Dodgers became a National League
dynasty well into the Fifties. They
aroused in their fans passions the
likes of which have rarely been
seen in public, and their stories

Hank Aaron
During the short-lived Seventies, Aaron's break-
ing of its most cherished record, discord in the
first player strike in 1972, and just this week the
naming of the first black manager.

A Kaline
1974 is a watershed year fcr baseball and with
it the established stars are gi ving way to a
%A, A ^ IQ i?% , I ^ ' t" ( "* . r:a is Al ; iO n 0 yr

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