is it time for me?
baseball updates their records
you can look it up
I have long held that the secret to understanding Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is baseball.
The Old Man has a special regard for Joe DiMaggio because Joe’s father was also a fisherman.
As a side note, Joe’s dad, Giuseppe DiMaggio was classified as a enemy alien during World War 2 and his fishing boat was seized and he was banned from the San Francisco harbor.
Joe DiMaggio’s Dad?
Marilyn Monroe’s Father-in-law?
Oh geeee whiz.
I also like how the Old Man talks about other teams in the American big leagues.
The Old Man says, “I fear both the Tigers of Detroit and the Indians of Cleveland.”
Somehow in the way Mr. Hemingway gets the conversation down on paper, I get the feeling that the Old Man pictured the Indians of Cleveland as Indians from-the-wild-west Indians.
Maybe that is just me.
Winston Churchill tells the story that while in Chicago on a lecture tour of the United States, one his meetings was broken up when an Indian in full dress stood up to yell at Churchill.
Mr. Churchill related how security went after the Indian who got away by diving through a plate glass window and running off down the streets of Chicago.
I had hard time understanding why an Indian in full dress, which to me meant an outfit out of a John Ford movie, would be in Chicago, heckling Winston Churchill.
It sure was a vivid word picture for me though.
An Indian in Indian Dress yelling at Winston Churchill, diving through a plate glass window like the cowardly lion, and running down the streets of Chicago with Chicago PD, guns blazing, in pursuit.
It was a long time before I figured out that Mr. Churchill was on a lecture tour, which included Grand Rapids, Michigan and an overnight stay at the Pantlind Hotel, and speaking on the topic of keeping India in the British Empire.
The Indian in full dress was a man from India in black tie.
The word picture is still pretty good at that.
So baseball is a theme that runs through The Old Man and the Sea.
At the end of the story, the Old Man ends up with nothing but bones.
Bones of the fish.
Imagine if you will the outlines of the bones of the fish.
The bold spine.
The thin faint ribs.
In my odd way, I can make the jump from a bony skeleton of a fish to the way the tiny print looks in the Official Baseball Encyclopedia.
When all is said in done all that remains of baseball are the faint outlines, the bones of a career, in the records.
I used to love baseball.
I came THIS CLOSE to taking a job with the National Baseball Hall of Fame,
The only thing that kept me from moving to Cooperstown was that another guy was offered the job.
At the end of my interview, the guy who interviewed me said he couldn’t offer me the job but he was penciling me into the lineup.
So I have that.
It was the strike of 1994-1995 that ended my love for the game.
I was shocked at the greed of players and owners.
I was disappointed mostly that when the 1994 season did not finish due to the strike, they still gave out awards for MVP, Cy Young and all the golden gloves based on the games played.
There had been no season, how could their be an MVP?
I don’t know why but that really bothered me.
Then the next season started late.
As Wikipedia says, “During the first days of the 1995 season, some fans remained irate at both players and owners.”
That was me.
Still am I guess.
I have a fascination for the old game, the game before the strike but nothing like it was.
I think it was Mitch Albom who suggested that what could have been done was make the 1994 and 1995 seasons, one long season.
I think I could have handled that.
As it was, seeing 94 and 95 as separate seasons broke the string of records.
And it was the records to me that mattered.
They were the spine and bones of the game.
And this was messing with the backbone.
The records meant something.
To an extent they still do or at least they did.
At least through to the steroids era.
I have a hard time relating to the home run records of Bobby Bonds and Mark McGwire.
I hate to say it but I am clueless to about half the abbreviations now prevalent in baseball writing.
And something called Walk UP Music?
But the old records and the old names and the old games?
I still find fascinating!
The announcement by Major League Baseball yesterday stirred up a lot of feelings for me.
MLB stated that they were going to recognize the Negro Leagues as an official major baseball league.
The Negro League records will be made part of the official MLB Records.
Not sure why but I also thought they were but I guess I was wrong.
Sometimes I cannot figure MLB out.
I certainly understand and appreciate their Jackie Robinson campaign.
I have a son named Jackie Robinson Hoffman.
I pushed for another son to be named Moses Fleetwood Walker Hoffman.
Moses Fleetwood Walker played baseball at the University of Michigan.
But when Mr. Walker walked out on the field as a player for the Toledo Blue Stockings in a game against the Chicago Cubs, Cap Anson, the Cubs Manager yelled, “GET THE N***** OFF THE FIELD.”
This was in 1884.
It wasn’t until 1947 that another black player got on the field.
My kids voted for the name Ellington over Moses.
Jackie Robinson should be celebrated and remembered.
Maybe more than a lot of players.
But for me, its for a reason that never should have happened.
When Robin Yount reached the same age Jackie Robinson was when Mr. Robinson was rookie of the year, Mr. Yount had been playing for 14 years.
I have a hard time getting my arms around MLB celebrating that it took them 63 years to figure out they had it wrong.
The decision for the color line was a decision made by MLB.
No one forced them to do it.
In spite of all considerations, I cannot think of anything on a sports level that had brought me such internal satisfaction.
Someone somewhere for some reason after way too long time made the right decision.
What does this mean?
There were seven accepted major leagues.
The record books also included under other headings or tab, Minor Leagues, Negro Leagues, KBO, Japan, Cuban, & Winter Baseball.
As off yesterday, the Negro Leagues considered a major league.
The tab between leagues has been removed.
If you look at the records for a player with time in the Federal League, you will see games played in the league along with that players other major league games:
Here is the record of Joe Tinker of Tinkers to Evers to Chance fame.
Notice the two years he played in the Federal League appear along with his other MLB appearances.
Here is the OLD Major League, as of yesterday, record of Satchel Paige.
NOW here is Mr. Paige’s records from Negro League appearances.
I am thinking that going forward, this record and the first record will now make up the official records.
The records in the books.
Who knows what may change.
I understand as Wikipedia puts it, “The true statistical achievements of Negro league players may be impossible to know as the Negro leagues did not compile complete statistics or game summaries.”
But I still look forward to looking up Josh Gibson when the next Baseball Encyclopedia is released.
However long this took to happen, it took too long.
But it is here now and it makes me happy.
I think of something Bill Veeck wrote about Satchel Paige.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in the National Leage.
In 1948, Larry Doby became the first black player in the American League when Veeck signed him to play for the Cleveland Indians.
Veeck writes in his book, Veeck as in Wreck, “The day after I signed Doby I got a wire from him [Satchel Paige] saying, “IS IT TIME FOR ME TO COME?”
Paige was around 42 years old.
Paige had been playing since 1927.
Playing and waiting for 21 years.
Now it is time.
Time for Mr. Paige to come into the record books.