Q: Is there a need to proselytize for the game of baseball.
A: Not really. It has done well on its own for many,many years.
Professional football has taken over as the number one team sport in this country. And why not? It is truly a great game.
Baseball has its critics. Some say it is too slow. Did you ever try counting the "actual action" in a football game? It really doesn't take all that much time. It is the nuances around the game that help make it so interesting. The same thing is true in baseball if you love the game and pay attention. If you want continuous action try ice hockey, or soccer. Even basketball has some serious time-outs.
How many team sports require as much individual versatility as baseball? A player at top level has to be able to hit the ball, field the ball, run the bases, and, above all, throw the ball with power and accuracy. There is no position in big time baseball for a player who can't throw.
If you don't like baseball, then so be it. But there is one thing the game owns that has no peers, and that's the color and lore that have been passed down through the years, and helped make up our culture. The stories abound.
Here are just a few examples:
* Scatterbrained Dizzy Dean was running down to second and got conked by a thrown ball. They put Dean in an ambulance for a trip to the hospital and an x-ray. The next day the St. Louis Post Dispatch has a headline that said, "Dean's Head Shows Nothing."
* The Cardinal"s "Ducky" Joe Medwick was called out on a third strike. Furious, Medwick threw his bat high in the air. The umpire said, "If dat bat comes down you are out of duh game."
*It was before lights and the Frankie Frisch Cardinals were ahead with darkness approaching. Frisch wanted the game called. In the next inning he took up his third base coach position and started striking matches to light up the field.
* Dizzy Dean and Joe Medwick got into and argument and decided to settle the issue under the stands. As soon as they got there Medwick delivered a haymaker to Dean's jaw. Dean sat there on the ground and said, "Wait a minute, where I come from we always talk it over before we start fighting."
* The Yankee's Lefty Gomez still had the bat on his shoulder as two Bob Feller one-hundred- miles- an-hour fastballs went zipping past him. On the third pitch the ump called strike three!! "Hold it," Gomez said, "that last one "sounded" a little low to me."
* Babe Ruth was called out on a third strike in Yankee Stadium. Ruth turned to the ump and said, "Tomato Head," "Forty thousand people know that was a ball."
"Maybe so," said the ump. "But mine is the only opinion that counts."
* Reggie Jackson's ego made him one of the all-time "Hot Dogs." One of his team mates said, "There isn't enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie."
* Joe DiMaggio played before the huge money of today. A reporter asked Joe what he might have said to the owner if that kind of money had been around in his day. Joe said, "I would have said hello "partner."
* Mike Schmidt said this game requires a lot of thought. "The pitcher's rubber is sixty feet six inches from home plate. Six inches closer and the curve ball doesn't have enough time to break; six inches further away and it breaks too soon.
* Yogi Berra was introduced to famous writer, Ernest Hemingway. Yogi said, "What paper do you write for, Ernie?"
* Bo Belinsky said "Philadelphia fans would boo a funeral."
* Bob Uecher said, "They have Easter egg hunts in Philadelphia, and if the kids don't find the eggs, they get booed."
* A proverbial remark about the dismal Washington Senators: "First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League."
* Red Smith said, "Ninety feet between bases is the nearest to perfection that man has yet achieved."
* Yogi Berra said, "You can observe a lot by just watching."
* A Bill Veek observation: " Baseball is almost the only orderly thing is a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes , even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off."
* Gaylord Perry used several illegal ointments to doctor up his curve ball.
Billy Martin said Perry always smelled like a drugstore.
* Pitcher, Early Wynn, was known to brush a few heads. A reporter asked Wynn if he would throw at his mother if she were batting. "Only if she was crowding the plate," Wynn said.
* Sal Maglie didn't like to make friends in baseball. Said he might have to throw at their heads some day.
* A reporter asked Yogi Berra how he liked school when he was growing up.
Yogi said, "Closed."
* Ralph Kiner said home run hitters drive Cadillacs . Singles hitters drive Fords.
* Stan Musial has been considered by many to be the best liked player in the history of baseball. When he retired Ford Frick said, "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. "Here stands baseball's perfect knight."
*Robin Roberts said he was the least prejudiced player ever in baseball. Said he delivered homer run balls to Negroes, Italians, Jews, Catholics alike. Race or creed made no difference to him.
There they are, just a handful of endless stories and incidents. Try to find them in any other sport.