I came across this photo last night, depicting the world’s largest baseball player in 1908. This young man weighed 450 pounds and played for the Citizens Baseball Team in Emporium, Pennsylvania. I wish I could find more details about this guy, such as his name and maybe even a few statistics, but haven’t had much luck with my search.
Given the long history between the United States and Russia/U.S.S.R., I could not help but chuckle in amusement as I read this piece. In this poem, Robert L. Harrison parodies the classic poem to give us an idea of what it would have looked like had Casey played in the Soviet Union.
The game was going badly for the Moscow Nine
For Gorky Park had no lights and darkness was on
While the sun was setting only Kasey was left
A former little leaguer from a Georgia team
A Cossack got fed up and soon
The rest clung to their commie hopes for losing was what
They thought if only comrade Kasey could get a whack
We’d bet every ruble now with Kasey at
And by the old Russian Gods was that Popovich
A speck of a human shadow who was faster than
So while Kasey missed a bunt, in came
Who was tagged out as poor Kasey took
Now the reds were quiet in this adventure
Until Ivan, a party member shouted
“We gotta believe.”
Then that peasant Kasey took another swing
Causing every commissar to scream
“You son of a vitch.”
Then from the Cuban advisors there rose up a
That caused the K.G.B. agents to make a
Which embarrassed every player, so they covered up
For they and the might Kasey only
There was ease in Kasey’s manner as he showed his
Even his manager smiled while surrounded by the
But the vodka was not selling and soon it would
So that bear of a pitcher unloaded his
Now fifteen-thousand matches struck to light up
As the umpire from Chernobyl lit up with
So now this baseball drama unfolded in the good
And “playball” they did on land that once belonged to
Now future visions of his own dacha dangled in
Helloooooooooooo to glasnost thought this
Then Kasey prayed for his wood to meet
For life for him forever would be a piece
Now in the dusk, the wind did stir and electrify
And in the sky, the Cossack caps were flying without
For contact was made with Kasey’s bat, a sphere flew up into
And a roar came from the bleacher seats, to the Moscow
But where the hell was Kasey? On the bases
Even the Cuban advisors stopped looking and had
Then Radio Free Moscow quit transmitting
So patrons in the Red Square would soon forget
Oh, somewhere icons are tearing and refusenicks
And soldiers fight for the party, not knowing they
But what about poor Kasey, why did he never score
The next day by second base they found him, he was hit by his
Now somewhere in Siberia, where the snow is wet
Where the timber wolf howls at the moon, and children
Somewhere in that frozen place, before the
You’ll find the mighty Kasey, playing on a
Today is the day that Rob Manfred takes over as Major League Baseball’s first new commissioner in 23 years. It will be interesting to see what changes might (or might not) be in store for the sport. As part of his vision for the league, Manfred has talked about reaching out to the game’s younger fans, improving on the technology provided by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and continuing “modernization” of the game. This third point both intrigues and worries me, but it’s much too early to pass judgment. About the only thing we really can say for sure right now is that today marks the beginning of a new era for baseball.
Lately, I seem to be catching all the big news while on the treadmill at the gym. The problem with that is that I find myself having to be careful not to trip over my feet when a headline like the death of Ernie Banks flashes across the screen in front of me.
Ernie Banks became the Cubs’ first African-American player on Sept. 17, 1953. He went on to win the National League Most Valuable Player award twice and was an eleven-time All-Star. Over the course of his career, Banks hit 512 home runs and had 1,636 RBIs, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. He passed away yesterday, Friday, January 23, in Chicago at the age of 83.
Farewell, Mr. Cub.
Here’s a story you don’t hear every day:
On January 18, 1950, Indians pitcher Bob Feller suggested to team management that he take a pay cut because he did not feel that his 15-14 record from the previous season merited an increase. Feller was granted his request, and his salary was cut $20,000 to $45,000. The following season, however, Feller made a comeback, finishing with 16 wins and a 3.43 ERA.