In some ways, baseball has changed since I was a kid, but in some ways, it's still that great American game.
ST. LOUIS, May 25, 2016 – I grew up loving baseball.
As I kid, and a St. Lous Cardinal’s fan, I listed to KMOX broadcasts on a Zenith radio. We had exciting announcers, like Harry Carey who sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” at the 7th Inning Stretch, and the great Jack Buck, who is still mentioned during Cardinal games by former players like Mike Shannon. Hall of famer Dizzy Dean was an announcer, too. He talked about facing the wrath of English teachers for saying things like, “He slud into third.” Dizzy was a character, who learned to pitch by throwing rocks to kill squirrels.
Now that’s something you don’t hear about from today’s baseball players.
There was a pitcher by the name of Bob Gibson who pitched nine innings and then a day or two later, he would pitch another game. He was also a pinch hitter. The man was a total athlete, who was also a former Globe Trotter basketball player.
Another great pitcher was Sandy Koufax. He was sent to the minors at first, and when he came back up, he was a great 9 inning pitcher. I attended one of the games he pitched, and it was boring. All the umpire said was “strike 1” “strike 2” and “strike 3.”
We believed that by being Cardinals fans, we were bound to traditional Midwest values. Fans never boo players, and when a former player came back to St. Louis, they got applause. Any player who joins the team becomes one of our own, and they are always welcome. Cardinals fans are true fans, through wins and losses, and always respect the players and the game. That’s why the average attendance at Cardinals games is 3,540,649, and the National League average is 2,615,565.
Baseball players today seem more injury prone than their predecessors. We constantly hear that they are going on the disabled list or that they need Tommy John surgery. Are they over trained or is it something else? Maybe they just ate more fat and drank more beer in the old days. Babe Ruth, the King of Swat, ate five hot dogs during a game.
We never heard about players taking drugs to enhance their performance and then falling from grace. Our greats didn’t suffer the disgrace of Barry Bonds or Mark McGuire. Hopefully the next generation won’t face it either.
We do see much more patriotism today at games than there used to be. Maybe that’s because of the chaos in the world. It’s truly moving to hear “God Bless America” before the game, or to see jets flying in formation.
One thing that is still true about baseball is that it bridges generations. I am blessed at my age to have a grandson, Brian, who is a great baseball fan. We can share stories and enjoy games. Another young man, Paul Davis, makes my day when he says, “Hi Mr. Vandegriffe” and expounds on baseball.
So take your grandkids, and your grandparents, to a baseball game and have some peanuts and cracker jacks…
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