Neatness Counts

It is inexplicable to me that the Yankees hold the last surviving “Old Timers’ Day” – they used to be regular features in nearly every ballpark, and for a time constituted a kind of floating franchise, managed centrally and sending the veterans on virtual summer-long tours of parks in the majors and minors.

I’ve been attending them off-and-on since 1967 and thus got to see Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams get basehits (Williams repeatedly homered into the stands in batting practice at Fenway in ’84). Since 2001 I’ve been privileged to be the sidekick to Hall of Fame Announcer Bob Wolff as he announces the nostalgia-fest over the PA system at Yankee Stadium, and thus tomorrow’s Day is a source of great anticipation.
The best part is always the first-timers. They are not exclusively the just-retired, like Mike Mussina. Lindy McDaniel, so long an ex-Yankee that his last act was to be traded to Kansas City for Lou Piniella, will make his debut tomorrow, as will Jerry Narron, whom I hope to be able to note has, simply, the best penmanship in baseball, perhaps in baseball.
Think I’m kidding?
narron2.jpg
This was one of Narron’s line-up cards while serving as a coach in Texas – a 1998 piece. His work during his one year for Tito Francona in Boston is still treated with hushed reverence by the Sox skipper, who says he has kept some of Narron’s line-up cards. One will notice that besides the calligraphy, there is a boxscore quality to the reserves. The White Sox “extra men” include “Cmrn” and “Snpk” – Mike Cameron and Chris Snopek.
I may try to convince Jerry to fill out the lineups in my scorebook for the Old Timers’ game.

4 Comments

I think today’s crowds largely lack the respect and interest (and education) to appreciate widespread Old Timer’s Days. We are a fickle breed. Good luck getting that scorebook filled out, sounds like fun.

You’d think St. Louis would be a natural place for an old timers game, anybody in Cardinals management read KO’s blog?

Wry musing … did Narron add the Bible reference to the line-up card before or after the game? Put another way, was it meant to be inspiration for the game … or a commentary on the outcome?

The Rangers won this particular game; the verse cited here is “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” so it works in either instance, I guess. Did he use a different verse for every day?

As a expression of faith within the baseball world, it’s certainly more gentle & subtle than the “Jesus is Coming Soon! Every Knee Shall Bow” bumper sticker that A’s manager Alvin Dark had on his car in the mid-70s.

I wish old-timers games were still common. A couple of thoughts:

1. Too many of the “old-timers” actually are old, and the more recent retirees don’t tend to have the same kind of camaraderie and love for the game. Money really has changed that, I think.

2. Bill Veeck put it best: have an old-timers day but don’t let them play. He said he got no joy from watching old, pot-bellied men trip over each other. Maybe have some batting practice.

Great story. In the late 1950s, Ty Cobb played in an old-timers game at Yankee Stadium. He led off, got a huge ovation, looked at the catcher–Wally Schang of the 1927 Yankees–and said, “Wally, I haven’t touched a bat in 10 years. You might want to back up a bit because I don’t want to hurt you.” Schang thanked him and backed up. Cobb then laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate, and got a base hit. Surprise, surprise.

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