As I mentioned before, I'm watching the Baseball documentary by Ken Burns. I think i'm through 1930, so I have a ways to go, but so far I've encountered some of baseball's greatest talents and personalities. Guys with nicknames like Tug, Rube, The Christian Gentleman, Iron Horse, and of course, The Babe fill the pages of Baseball's lore. It seems like these men perfectly encapsulate some aspect of America. None of them are perfect, but neither is Uncle Sam.
John McGraw was manager of the NY Giants through the first decades of the century, and made sure his team played smart/small ball. It wasn't exciting, but it was effective. He always said, even though the owner's wouldn't allow it, that he'd hire any black player who had more talent than his white counterpart. Christy Mathewson was a mild mannered pitcher on McGraw's team all those years. The only thing that rivaled his great talent was his great big heart. No ballplayer, even the notoriously hard-ass Ty Cobb, had a bad word to say about Mathewson his entire career. He died after breathing poison gas in Europe while serving his country in WWI. Georgia native, Ty Cobb, was a dirty player by just about every standard imaginable. He was a racist. He deliberately injured players on the other team. He once beat up a handicapped person in the stands. He was a real ass. But he was, statistically, the best hitter the game's ever seen. He wouldn't stand to be second in anything. Respectable. There is story after story in the annals of Baseball about men who stood out in a crowd. Will I stand out in the crowd? What will I look like if I do?
I was thinking about it and I want to be a little bit like all of them. I'd like to be as old-school as McGraw, as genuinely well-liked as Mathewson, as dedicated as Cobb, as durable as Gehrig, and as big (figuratively) as Ruth. There's something timeless about these men and there's something timeless about this game. I know I won't be everything that they were, but it's nice to have something to aim at!