Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
~Heywood Hale Broun
As promised, here is the first of the “Talkin’ Baseball” team parodies, by Terry Cashman. Enjoy, Reds fans!
As I post these, I will be tagging each version of the song under Talkin’ Baseball. That way, as the series grows, it will be easy to find the full listing.
Capping off his record-breaking home run season, on this day in 1961, Roger Maris of the New York Yankees was named the American League Most Valuable Player. It was the second year in a row that Maris won the award. This time, he edged teammate Mickey Mantle by four votes, 202-198.
My favorite baseball player of all time is Cal Ripken, Jr.
I’ve never been an Orioles fan. I’ve never been to Baltimore. And, I’m sorry to say, the one time I saw the Orioles in Kansas City while Ripken’s career was still active, Ripken himself did not play. I felt disappointed, of course, but one could hardly hold it against him for taking a day off, considering his distinguished career and his 2,632 consecutive games streak.
Ah yes… The Streak.
Herein lies the reason that I admire Ripken: his steady play, his work ethic, his consistency, and the fact that he showed up to play day in and day out. I have learned to really appreciate these qualities in the workplace, and in people in general, as they are true rarities.
The Streak began on 30 May 1982, and for sixteen years, Ripken did not miss a single game. He played hurt. He played sick. Yankees pitcher David Cone hit the nail on the head when he said, “A lot of people who go to work every day can identify with Cal. The streak supersedes baseball.”
On 6 September 1995, Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game, thus breaking Lou Gehrig’s 56-year-old record. Among the fans in attendance at the game were President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio, and Ripken’s family. Then, in the bottom of the fourth inning with a 3-0 count, Ripken blasted a fastball into the stands for a home run, which brought the crowd roaring to its feet.
When the game became official in the fifth inning, a banner reading “2131” was dropped over right field, and Ripken emerged from the dugout in response to the curtain call from the crowd. Even after Ripken returned to the dugout, however, the cheering continued, and Ripken emerged once again. This time, he did more than just tip his hat in acknowledgement to the crowd. He broke out into a slow jog around the perimeter of the field, giving high fives and shaking hands with Orioles fans as he went.
Even today, eighteen years later, seeing footage of that moment gives me the chills. It was a moment of true greatness, unlikely to be matched anytime soon.
On 20 September 1998, the Orioles’ final home game of the season, Ripken voluntarily took himself out of the lineup. He was not hurt, he just felt it was time. He explained simply, “The emphasis should be on the team. There have been times during the streak when the emphasis was on the streak. I was never comfortable with that. It was time to move the focus back to the team.”
To top it all off, throughout all the hype and the scrutiny surrounding this record, Ripken remained as humble as a man could be. “A lot of people think this is a great, great accomplishment,” he said. “But I really believe that somebody else will come along and play more games, because if I can do it, somebody else definitely will. I don’t consider myself superhuman and I’m not an iron man physically or mentally.” You don’t encounter class like that every day.
By the time Cal Ripken retired in 2001, he had accomplished more than just breaking the record for consecutive games played. He had been named Rookie of the Year in 1982, the American League MVP twice, and appeared in nineteen All-Star games. Additionally, he had won the Gold Glove twice, the Silver Slugger award eight times, and received the Roberto Clemente Award in 1992. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Canton, Rafael. “Interview: Cal Ripken, Jr. Talks Unbreakable Records, Farewell Tours, and Being A Role Model.” Complex Sports. Complex Media 25 July 2013. Web. Accessed 13 November 2013. http://www.complex.com/sports/2013/07/interview-cal-ripken-jr-talks-unbreakable-records-farewell-tours-and-being-a-role-model
“‘I think the time is right’: Ripken ends historic streak at 2,632 games.” CNN/SI 20 September 1998. Web. Accessed 12 November 2013. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/news/1998/09/20/ripken_streak/
“Sep 6, 1995: Ripken breaks record for consecutive games played.” History: This Day in History. A&E Television Networks 1996-2013. Web. Accessed 13 November 2013. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ripken-breaks-record-for-consecutive-games-played
There are only two seasons – winter and baseball.
In 1962, Ken Hubbs, a rookie infielder for the Cubs, was selected as the Gold Glove winner at the second base position. It was the first time in Major League that a rookie won the fielding award. In addition to the Gold Glove, Hubbs also won the National League Rookie of the Year award. He was considered the best defensive second baseman of his time, until his tragic death in a plane crash in 1964.
Here is a poem, written by an anonymous author, about the great Jackie Robinson.
After the war
After white on white on white
And the once empty rosters are no longer
as the face of my mother
My father spoke.
I remember the gloom of my fathers words
And what they did to my mother’s face
And what they did to my heart
– Those words my daddy spoke.
Daddy told us about
And how he was
Swatting white balls
In black parks
while Ruth and fellows
Daddy told us about
Satch, Ole Satch
Lean and hummin;
And how when Satch was
Striking black leather
And Kansas City
Satch was doing all those things
Grove and Dean and Feller
since my father’s words
since his death
He had a belly laugh
My daddy did
And his laugh
if ever such a sound could reach your ears
Would be filled with the
That men such as
Mays and Robinson and Aaron
Could have given him.
Not their booming home runs and feats of magic.
Just their faces
Just their faces
Just their faces
A few months ago, I posted Terry Cashman’s parody, “Talkin’ Softball.” It occurs to me that I’ve never bothered to post the original song on which that parody is based, so I figured it was time I rectified that.
Besides the Simpsons/softball version, other versions of this song have been made over the years, highlighting various Major League teams. Perhaps, over the next few months or so, I’ll have to find and grant a turn to each one of those team versions here.
Careers end with a ground ball to shortstop, not with a home run.
~from Bull Durham
In 1969, two pitchers tied in the voting for the Cy Young award for the first time in baseball history. Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers finished the season with a 24-9 record and a 2.80 ERA. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles’ Mike Cuellar finished with a 23-11 record and an ERA of 2.38. Both men received ten votes from the BBWAA (Baseball Writer’s Association of America) as being the best pitcher in the American League.