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Winter jobs

Posted by mikelink45 , 16 December 2017 · 1,877 views

Boy were the times different. Isn’t that Lounge singer Denny McLain? Why is Bobby Veach mining for Coal between seasons.
When comparing athletes from different generations there so many obstacles that statistics just cannot stand up. When someone quotes WAR for a player from the first half of the twentieth century to compare them with current players I have to believe that the person doing so knows it is a ridiculous exercise. It was not only how they were used in the games, the equipment, training, and philosophy of the day, it was where sports ranked in society.
A recent conversation with Author/singer Douglas Wood had us both reminiscing about driving to International Falls and getting our gas tanks filled by Bronko Nagurski, the Canadian born young man grew up in the woods, lumber camps and hard work were common for him and his Ukrainian parents.
He went on to be in the inaugural class of inductees in both the Professional and the College Football Hall of Fames and was a giant in professional wrestling, but he was always a small town guy running his own gas station and putting on the gas caps to tight that people had to come back to Bronko’s to buy more gas since no one else could loosen the cap. It is a good legend.
But what Doug and I both remember is that parents would want to have their young sons shake hands with Bronko. His ring size of 19 ½ might help understand how you would see your hand literally disappear inside his big mitt.
But he was not the only working man professional athlete.

We know minor leaguers still get jobs that put them in mainstream society, but this article https://prestonjg.wo...ter-of-1958-59/ gives a list of 1958 jobs including Hall of Famers like Eddie Mathews and Early Wynn running construction companies, and Nellie Fox running a bowling alley. What a time that was!
No they were not just doing it for publicity. In those days salaries and revenues did not allow for 12 month athletes with personal trainers. Smoky Burgess drove a lumber truck and Stan Musial had a bowling alley and a number of businesses to manage, but during the 1940s he sold Christmas Trees from a lot with Red Schoendienst and other Cardinal stars. Roy Campenella ran a liquor store. Jim Palmer pitched a shut out in the World Series and then sold furniture for the winter.
Try to imagine Yogi Berra selling you hardware in a Sears store or working as a head waiter in a restaurant you frequent. Or you could buy flowers at Lou Brock’s floral shop. Roger Bresnahan worked as a detective in the off season. When Waite Hoyt was a young player he worked in a mortuary In the winter and Eddie Plank gave tours of the Gettysburg battlefield. Jackie Robinson made his winter dollars selling appliances and doing barnstorming. And both Willie Mays and Willie McCovey sold cars!
Our Minnesota Twins took work seriously too – Bob Allison sold cars and real estate and I would love to have some help filling out the resume’s of our early Twins players.

Dec 17 2017 01:43 PM
Pretty sure Bob Allison worked for Coca Cola.


Pretty sure Bob Allison worked for Coca Cola.

I am sure you are right.Like many of the players he had different jobs between seasons, but I think he finished with Coca Cola.Thanks for the note.

Dec 20 2017 07:18 PM
Jim Mudcat Grant had a nightclub act and was a singer. I read where he worked in the Cleveland ticket office and for their community relations team when he played for the Indians.
    • mikelink45 likes this


Jim Mudcat Grant had a nightclub act and was a singer. I read where he worked in the Cleveland ticket office and for their community relations team when he played for the Indians.

Here is Mudcat on an old 45 - https://www.youtube....8&v=QoL9wBmZg2c