The Absurd Times Baseball’s Hall of Fame

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on January 13, 2013




Illustrations: Chuck Comisky, owner of the White Sox and revered member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

I have to start out by saying that I can’t imagine this being translated into any other language, and this leaves out some readers, and will be fairly unintelligible to those who live in other countries whose language is English, former British colonies and prison camps such as Australia and Ireland. So, half the audience is gone. Not only does it use words peculiar to America, but is about a uniquely American subject, baseball, that has a reverence here shared only in Japan where they, in the words of Casey Stengel, try to “play baseball with short fingers.”

Before I tell you about it, let me relate what I heard recently. Someone said he got the Mayan 2013 calendar in the mail – 13 sheets of blank paper. So, onward!

It also proves the point that Americans have no memory at all and reinforces Gore Vidal’s appellation of The United States of Amnesia.

The point is that the baseball writers met this year to decide who gets elected to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, enshrined in the memory of this wonderful and pure American pass-time. A baseball writer is someone who, by definition, has no sense of history, no sense of the facts, and never any any ability to throw or hit a baseball properly and who probably got the shit beaten outtake themselves by people who could play baseball as they were growing up as kids. If they ever did play, they were the kid who always got picked last.

So we need to look at this pure sport, the one the sportwriters decided no body was worthy of mention, including people like Barry Bonds with more home runs in his lifetime than anyone else, ever, and Roger Clemens, a fat slob who, nevertheless, knew how to throw a baseball better and faster than almost anyone else of his time. Sammy Soza and a few other were also excluded. Why were they excluded? Because they may have used steroids! How evil! In this pure sport with such a hallowed history of purity and honesty, we certainly can not allow someone who may have used drugs to play.

Lets look at that history.

We needn’t go all the way back except to mention that there is one Baseball record that will never be broken: Cy Young’s 511 lifetime wins. Think of it, it would take 25 years of winning 20 games and even then you would be 11 short.

We can start with the first big scandal, the so-called “Black-Sox” of 1919 who threw the world series. Several players were banned from the game for life, including the famous “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (who did wear shoes) who hardly knew what the hell was going on. Well, yes, they did throw the series, but the story of what really happened is hardly known – even the movie “9 Men Out” that has the great and late Studs Terkel in it tells only most of the story.

The White Sox were owned by big Chuck Comisky who also owned most of the south side of Chicago and its judicial system. This mobster who was ahead of his time had a contract with the star pitcher Ed Cicotte that had a bonus clause of $10,000 in it if he won 30 games. When he won his 29th, sometime in late July or early August, Comisky called the manager in and told him not to let him start until the season was over. He did not want to pay the money owed to a peasant and indentured servant. In fact, he cheated every single player on his team, a team that was by far the best of its time. I should also point out that Comisky did play professional baseball himself, unlike our current owners.

One of those players had a brain, a first baseman by the name of Hal Chase. Cicotte, since he was a pitcher also had a brain. The two of them worked out a scheme involving a few of the other players to get money clearly due them from Comisky but get it from gamblers from Cincinnati, a town best known for WKRP, a television show of the early 80s. There was no proof against them, and one, Joe Jackson, was one of the players with the highest batting average during the series. Some sports writer made up a story about a poor little orphan chile who spoke up as Joe left the court room, “Say it isn’t so, Joe.” Well, the truth is, Joe was taken out of the building trough a back door, no one knew he was leaving, it was midnight, and the story was pure bullshit, like most crap about the game.

Chuck Comisky and his fellow owners had all the morality of the Board of Directors of AIG who are suing the Government for bailing them out with billions of our dollars and manners that would make his successor, Al Capone, look like a cross between Cary Grant and a choir boy.

They had a slavish old man called “Mountain” Landis, a stick of a coward, to “save the games” as commissioner, banished them for life. So how do we hear about this?

Did you know that the announcers were owned by the owners of the team? Remember Harry Cary who used to guzzle beer like water from a wine glass would shout and cry all along and was barely kept aware of what was going on by another announcer named Jack Buck? The team was owned by Auggie Busch, a gnome like creature straight from the first act of Wagner’s Das Reingold, and a pure fascist. The family fired Harry after he felt up the wife of one of the Busch family members and he went on St. Louis television drinking from a can of Schlitz. He later moved to Chicago, the Sox and then the Cubs.

There were time when no body was elected to this venerable Hall of Fame, like 1949 and 1950, but those years, well, take it as a fact that there were no worthwhile candidates. Just look back at some of the most hapless Cubs teams of the 50s, the team the songwriter Steve Goodman (The City of New Orleans) called the “doormat of the National league”. Those teams were owned by Wrigley who sold chewing gum. They had a sportscaster named Harry Creighton who sold Hamms beer and drank it on camera and by the seventh inning of a double header could not even tell what city he was in.

The only sportscaster of any reputation was Bob Elson of the Chicago White Sox who was most known for reminiscing about Luke Appling during the 60s and who had no idea of what the score was at any given time, or at least kept it secret from radio listeners. He is most remembered by imitations of him by Bob Ueker, yes, the announcer in the movie “Major League,” who imitates Elson in the movie several times.

Yes, this is the game we know as the pure symbol of what it is to be an American. The great Babe Ruth hit more home runs in one season than the rest of the league combined, and drank more beer had laid more women in one night than the rest of the team in a year. Ah yes, the “Babe”!

Now for a long time, the “Babe” held the single season record of 60 home runs. When Roger Maris broke that record, the season had been lengthened, out of greed, to 161 games. The commissioner thus put an asterisk after Maris’ record recording that fact. It was dropped eventually. (The Commissioner could use an asterisk, I suppose, and thus molify some of the purists in the case of the “steroid era”.)

Maris, meanwhile, was traded away by the same Yankees to the Kansas City Athletics, now in Oakland. The teams he now played against did not know of his physical problems and thus threw curve balls at him because it is much easier to hit a home run off a fasst ball than a curve. The fact was, the curve, because it is slower, was about the only pitch he could hit at the time.

And who can forget Ty Cobb? Most stolen bases, right? And the biggest, most vile racist ever to play the game, a guy who used to file his spikes sharp to cut up players on the other team as he slid into them. He was the real Georgia Peach if ever there was one. I am not sure, but I doubt whether in his entire career he hit as many home runs as Babe Ruth did in any one of many seasons.

Pete Rose is a person you probably wouldn’t like, even if he was on your team, but he did set lifetime records. He was banned from baseball for life because he gambled. Heavens help us! An evil gambler in this pure pass time.

Pitchers, of course, account for most of the imagination and brains on a team. Even the “Babe,” considered “colorful,” did not get that way because he played right field. Nope, he started as a pitcher and held some pitching records that lasted for decades.

“Lefty” Gomez, undoubtedly the best hitter on his team, is in the Hall of fame as a pitcher. He is also known for not showing up at practice until some alligator wrestler in Florida (spring training) showed up at the ballpark complaining that Lefty was stealing his act, wrestling alligators himself and drawing bigger crowds.

Jim Bouton wrote a book called Ball Four revealing what his teammates, the New York Yankees, were really like. How they reacted can be inferred by the title of his second book, I’m Glad You Didn’t Take it Personally, or words to that effect.

The great Bill “Spaceman Lee,” who called the strike-zone “Cartesian Co-Ordinates,” used to negotiate his contract with the owner of the Red Sox while sitting in the Zen Lotus position.

“Dizzy” Dean used to call newspapers and give their writers “exclusive” leaks, all different on the same story. “That way, they all got their scoop,” sayz Diz. He’d predict how many games he and his brother would win and then do it, having to win 31 games one year to make it come true. When he pitched against Babe Ruth, he threw very easy pitches to hit. When asked why, he said he had never seen the great Babe Ruth hit a home run.

Not all the players with intelligence and imagination were pitchers, but it certainly was a big factor in their success.

Baseball was a game that was allowed to use a “reserve clause” that keep the players as indentured servants for life! They could either accept the owners’ terms or quit the game. That was it.

When the Supreme Court ruled against them for the first time during the 80s, the 1980s, “Catfish Hunter” was immediately given a salary of one million dollars. Before that, it was peanuts. That was the first time I thought maybe I should have signed the contract, but time would not have been on my side anyway.

Today, the media still remains in the pocket of the owners, thugs who blackmail cities with threats to relocate and are billionaires. The press has fans upset at the players when they strike (after all, some make millions), but never think about how much money someone who can afford to pay those salaries has.

Wrigley of the Cubs used to keep a player until he got too good to pay and then sell him, usually to the St. Louis Cardinals, for a profit.

So, Cooperstown, Hall of Fame, know it for what it is, not what some pimply simpleton would have you believe.

Don’t get me started on American Football, the game of brain injuries for profit.


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