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Grandpa's hands

Posted by mikelink45 , 24 November 2017 · 735 views

barehanded ball old days no gloves no lights
Grandpa's hands I remember my Grandpa's hands. They were so big that when we arm wrestled they would wrap around my hand and over lap and people thought I had big hands. He had hands from being a lumberjack, from working as a fireman on the Iron range railroad, but he might have had big hands because he played country ball. He pitched, he caught, he played what ever was needed. He was not great, my uncles moved into various paid ball clubs, but grandpa always played and I was young and he was old and still he was there. No glove, no glory, he just played.

I read a passage from THE TURTLES BEATING HEART by Denise Low, an essay tracing her Delaware Indian heritage and she wrote, "The most substantial evidence of Grandfather's baseball career was his gnarled hands. Grandfather played the physically demanding position of catcher before padded mitts were standard equipment. Several times fastballs broke his fingers, which in old age were knotted with arthritis. The life of a professional baseball player was tough in the early 1900s. Grandfather told my brother about traveling with the Blues from one small town to the next by train. The Kansas City Public Library has records of the Blues, exactly as Grandfather remembered, but only with accounts of wins and losses, not rosters. Baseball was poorly documented during that era, and players were transient as the poorly organized teams."

Each year I hear the debates about Hall of Fame and every year I hear that the athletes now are so much better than what they used to be. But of course that is just our need to make our own generation the best ever. The fact is, we are bigger, faster, more athletic than they were in the past, but our diet, our understanding of physiology, our training, our health and our opportunities are better too.

The old athlete given everything we have today would be just as great. Jim Thorpe would rise to the medal stand today just as he did when he came off the reservation. The pitchers who tossed every game and won or loss 30 - 40 = 50 games years ago would be the studs today (of course we would only let them throw 5 innings every five or six days.

I remember seeing a line drive to third base, the most dangerous position on the field, hit to my grandfather. I remember the speed of the ball and I remember him catching it without gloves. He didn't flinch, he didn't call for the trainer. My god those guys were tough.

So, yes today's players are magnificent, but please - do not consider them to be better than the athletes of the past. Statistics do not measure diet, the need to work for the family to survive, the lack of equipment, or the desire of the player. Enjoy today's athlete and honor those who played for the simple love of the game.

  • Oldgoat_MN, Rhino and Compass, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

This is a very good point. Well said.

    • mikelink45 likes this
Nov 25 2017 05:15 PM

Nice article.

    • mikelink45 likes this