IT WAS A GAME: It was a time when, while hanging precariously over
the railing, if you asked a super star like "Stan “The Man" to sign your program he would smile and
ask, “Who to?!” - and not expect to be paid $49.99,
REMEMBERING WHEN IT WAS A GAME
BIG LEAGUE DREAMS: Like
millions of my contemporaries in 1956, I had aspirations
to play Major League baseball - and
all my heroes were ballplayers.
Like it or not, ballplayers
are role models for the youth of America
After walking up the cool, dark ramp to the reserved
seats on the third base side of old Busch Stadium, I emerged into
the open, and the brilliant, searing heat of the early afternoon
July sun in St. Louis hit me full force. The field seemed vast to
a 7-year old who had anticipated this day for two months: A Sunday
double header with the Braves!
Burdette and Spahn going against Jackson and
Mizell. Heaven surely couldn't have provided the pure joy and elation
that overwhelmed me as I peered out over the acres of green where
Musial, Boyer, Moon,
Cooper and company were taking
batting practice and Aaron,
and Adcock were busy at a game of pepper, preparing for a day’s
These were my heroes. Don't let anyone ever suggest, as many athletes
do today, that these men and many other ball players of the era
were not role models to millions of us classified as "Baby
Boomers." Professional athletes cannot relinquish, off-hand,
their responsibility to the youth of America.
these men were human and far from perfect. However, their personal
discretions never threatened the integrity of the game or the
of the youth striving to emulate them on the field. It was a time
when "the game" was respected by players, owners, major
league governance and the fans.
THE 1950s WAS A TIME
game" was respected by players, owners, major league governance
and the fans.
There were no multimillion-dollar contracts,
no free agency, no cable TV, no
performance-enhancing drugs, no bikini-clad plastic surgery
queens extolling the virtue of drinking low-carb, low-cal pseudo-brew,
no player's union and no attorneys interfering with a deal and a
There were no swimming pools, video game arcades,
sky boxes or skytrons within the "friendly confines."
The fare for the afternoon was hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks.
If you were looking for sushi or nachos you were not only in the
wrong place, but in the wrong country, in 1956.
The players sported no beards, corn rows, shaggy
hairdos or piercings. The only glove used in baseball was a fielder's,
catcher's or first-baseman's mitt. Other gloves were used when
it was cold or on the golf course.
EBBETS FIELD was a shrine
to baseball in the 1950s.
That was a time when ballparks were called
County Stadium, Connie Mack Stadium, Ebbets Field and The Polo
Grounds, rather than being
named for banks, animal supply outfits or cellular phone companies
whose only interest in baseball is to have a venue to market on
the “big screen.”
That was a time when the Commissioner of Baseball had some “cojones” and
took his responsibility to protect the integrity of the game seriously.
to fan: "Show
me the money."
player: "Show me some class."
In 1956, major league baseball was not an industry
being suckled by hundreds of disparate parasites, performing like
a phony professional
wrestling troupe and living by the adage: "Show me the money!"
FANS COULD ALWAYS COUNT
on the Mick and Yogi - both on and off the field.
Ball players didn't come and go at the whim of an agent or owner.
The great teams of the '40s and '50s maintained their nucleus
players and earned the adoration of their fans.
I always knew that Musial
and Boyer would be in the Cardinal line-up; Spahn, Burdette, Aaron,
Adcock and Crandall in
the Braves line-up; Snider,
Reese, Robinson, Furillo,
Hodges and Campy in the Dodger
line-up; and Berra, Ford, Mantle, Richardson and Howard in the Yankee
Ask yourself if you, as a fan, are better off
agency, dominance of large media markets, minimal regard for cohesive
team building by owners, and huge salaries that have led to player's "excel at any cost" attitude)
That was a time when, while hanging precariously
over the railing, if you asked a super star like Musial
or Mays to sign your program,
they would smile and ask, “Who to?!” - and not expect
to be paid $49.99, plus tax.
That’s when the game was played by naturally hard-hitting,
hard-driving men who respected the game and it's heritage, and who
didn’t mind taking a minute to make the dreams of a 7-year-old
fan come true.
Do you remember WHEN IT WAS A GAME?!
here to share your thoughts and stories with others<<
STADIUM, July 1956; Cardinals vs. Braves. That's me 10 rows
up behind the dugout eating a hot dog and yelling
for Jackson to throw it by him. I remember WHEN IT WAS A GAME.