Nine Lost Baseball Traditions
Before the MLB All-Star Game that the American League won 3-0 on Tuesday, the Star Tribune in Minnesota released a list of nine traditions that are slowly dying off from the game. A few of the most treasured traditions are already gone. Patrick Reusse creatively came up with nine to symbolize one: the complete game. Here is their list:
1. The Sunday Doubleheader
This allowed people from surrounding areas to drive to town and enjoy a full day of baseball or at least one game. Mike Veeck, son of Bill Veeck, who owned the Chicago White Sox said the team would play and return 22 minutes later. But now with TV involved they do not play as fast. Plus, TV means a longer break in between games and managers prefer to play the second right away. Sitting around extends the day and wears out the players. Minnesota Twins manager knows this one will not return.
“We also know it’s never going back to the way it was,” he said. “Lots of season tickets in today’s game; lots of money involved. The owners need it to pay those big salaries.”
2. Fungoes and Infield
These long, lean hunks of wood were used to hit fly balls to outfielders and ground balls to infielders. Back in the day the home team took batting practice, then the visitors, and the home team would return to do “infield” and the visitor would come out to do the same. But now they do it all during batting practice because 30 minutes before the game now belongs to promotions people and the ground crew.
This game allowed players to kill time if they arrived to the ballpark too early. Reusse explains:
One batter, several fielders 10-15 feet away in a line, making tosses that the batter would hit back at the players, hopefully on one, hard-to-handle hop. Generally, the punishment for booting the ball was to be sent to the end of line, and farther from his chance to be the batter.
Pepper was the enemy of groundskeepers. The game usually took place behind home plate, beating up the grass. “No Pepper’’ started appearing in paint on the short wall behind the plate – the area now used for advertising.
The players enjoyed it because it forced them to move quick. It was great for their mobility. Twins coach Joe Vavra said he has not seen a game in a long time.
4. Oldtimers Day
The Yankees still hold onto this tradition and held one of June 23rd for the 67th time. It is a great way to see the old players and celebrate past seasons. It keeps young kids connected the past and allow adults to relive their youth.
5. The Bullpen Car
Back in the day relievers and closers did not run to the mound when called. Instead, someone would drive them to the mound. Former Twins player Dick Stigman said players received Dodges one year and that year they used a Dodge to the mound. Another year was in a Ford.
6. Keeping Score
Is there a prettier play in baseball than 4-6-3? I do not think so. Unfortunately, the younger generation probably has no idea what I’m talking about. Now most people do not keep score in the stands. A Twins fan told Reusse there is not a line for scorecards and they do not give you an old pencil. It is a lost art around all ballparks.
7. Averages in Sunday Newspapers
Well, not a lot of people receive the Sunday paper. Newsprint is also dying, but the Associated Press still releases them every Sunday. George Brett said he always looked to see who was below Mario Mendoza, a shortstop that barely hit above .200.
8. The Baseball Bible
The Sporting News used to call itself the Baseball Bible. It was the way to keep up with all the teams and everyone read it. But starting in the 1980s it slowly weaned off baseball and starting this year it is only a website and mostly dedicated to football.
9. Collecting Baseball Cards
Now, this one hits really close to home. My husband and I still have all of our baseball cards. In fact, when we moved from Houston to Oklahoma City, I forced him to throw out a lot except for his baseball cards. For birthdays and Christmas it would be a treasure to receive a whole box of baseball cards and spend the day looking up their value in the Beckett book. Kids would beg parents to take them to card shows or pick up a package at the grocery store. Now you do not see them as much.
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