The Life of a Ballplayer in the 20th Century

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Being a game brought to the North Americans by immigrants, it was more than a bat and ball game. To the parents of that era, the term ballplayer was not a career that a kid would have pursued and a parent contends with such an idea. This is because baseball did not entirely have a broad cultural impact as it has had in the recent few years starting from the amount of money the players used to be awarded. Life as a typical ballplayer of the 20th century, however, was not as smooth and this was contributed to by the hardships that the players were going through right from the cheap contracts that were being passed along from team to team in exchange of vital players (Lawrence 51). The life of the players did not have much to do with social purposes as more of what they were seeking for was personal nature.

                   In pursuit of personal nature, many would think that players as young as twenty years old had their minds tormented when deciding to move from a highly prestigious club to play with the boys. To them, it was more of the passion and the purpose they had for the success in their career. They were crazy about baseball (Lawrence 54). Their life was basically revolving around making undecided moves and shutting prestigious doors to seek for passion. Moreover, the life of a ballplayer at that as described in the book ‘the glory of their times’ was way different than it later came to be. The players did not have a bunch of coaches each with a specialized lie of perfection in baseball but rather it was an old timer professional who had the overall knowledge about the game. It was up to the individual's will to get himself into condition. For Heinie Groh, while he was eighteen years old back in 1908 he almost joined University of Rochester if it was not for the fellow from Oshkosh (Lawrence S. Ritter). To him, baseball was an extra option he could have pursued other than education. His scenario, on the other hand, is practically different as a typical baseball player for unlike other players who had the driving force and the platform to practice baseball as a career, he could have chosen to pursue it or pursue education. His parents, on the other hand, had no idea about the sport but later on contributed in to support him. Hank Greenberg, on the other hand, did not have a perfect start in life as a baseball player for the society had him view himself as a gawky kid who was not well coordinated (Lawrence 35).

                Typically, a ballplayer in the turn of the twentieth century had to work his way through many decisions already set by their parents including having a decent income source that would have rather been some official work but not a career in baseball (Lawrence 14). To rise in baseball meant that the individual had to pursue an uphill task of approaching baseball clubs of the higher league only to be disappointed. Rube Marquard, for instance, had to join the Indianapolis club against the will of his father which seemed to be a rough start for the renowned star who won 23 games with them among other games in the Canton club. Different from Rube Marquard, another ballplayer was Rube Bressler who practically had a significantly different start as other players did. being a seventeen-year-old kid at a railroad shop he had never pitched for any team in his life but later on became the starting pitcher at Connie Macks World Champion Philadelphia Athletics. His start, unlike Marquard, revolved around many pitchers.

                    He entered the professional ranks through a pretty wise mechanism which started by connecting with people he already knew were players in the local teams. Though by the time he talked to Howard Wakefield he was yet to be eighteen, he had his hopes high that he would one day become a big leaguer himself. Having made his way from Cleveland to Waterloo, Marquard was highly determined for the chance which he later did not secure as he had to stay for the weekend for the manager to fully vet his capabilities and award him the contract. Going back home he worked as a casual worker at the ice cream company which he later quit joining the Indianapolis of the American Association. At the Indianapolis, he was optioned for Canton in the central league, won twenty-three games and the next year faced Cleveland team to only win 2-0 and wasn’t killed either. The Cleveland team made efforts of signing in Marquard but he declined, a clear indication of how the eighteen-year-old had made progress in the team. During the American National Leagues off-day, Marquard had the chance of a lifetime having impressed with no hits, no runs, and no errors. The Cleveland club went as high as $10,500 but the Giants went to $11,000 to whom he was sold to. Having reported to the New York Giants the eighteen-year-old had made it to professional ranks.

                  Specs Toporcer, a New York baseball player on the other end had a humble start in life as a ballplayer and this was right from the time he was six years old. Surprisingly enough he started visiting the polo grounds to see the Giants play while he was ten years. This was quite a privilege considering the fact that he was born during the time McGraw was the manager of the team. With his resilience and determination, he did not give up his passion even after his attempt to be included in the school baseball team failed.

                     Putting up with the environment in the training campus required some level of understanding the other person's boundaries. Old timers were rough on rookies (Lawrence 55), the players would get into a hassle with one another in situations that would only yield suspensions and overrated grudges. The kid got in a hassle with Tim which got him suspended for five days with 50 bucks fine. The treatment from the veterans did not only involve physical bullying and manipulation but also involved a lot of cussing. With reference to what happened to George, he was cleared out of the league just because he had an argument with an umpire called Ferguson who threw him out of the game. The ego or superiority in the veterans compromised the success of the rookies and their performance as it would practically be reflected out in the overall performance in the field. On the contrary, attributes displayed by Jimmy Austin (Lawrence 57) while connecting with Branch Rickey tremendously depicts the perfect image of the veteran-rookie relationship defined with common ground rules that promote and maintain respect within the club.

                       Apparently, rookies owed the veterans a great deal despite the fact that they would not in any way make the life of a rookie be to get up to the plate in a batting practice. Among them, McGraw insisted that youngster rookies be subjected to running around the park as many times as possible. Before it would turn out be one big family the veterans didn’t openly receive the newbies into the field but they would rather try to keep the plate away until the rookies would personally express their guts and to some extent drive them away instead (Lawrence 77).

                         On the other hand, it was still the role of the same veterans to instill the skills and perfect the capabilities of the fresh minds at the pitch. Rube Bressler having played alongside Eddie Roush had the privilege to be taught the art of perfection in hitters, line drives, yelling for the ball, shifting on different hitters and to also running after a fly. Rube Bressler was mentored by Eddie as improvements right from the first ball he caught as an outfielder are evident from the achievements he made years later.  Bob O’Farrell was mentored by Mr.Bresnahan who was the very first person to wear shin guards. He taught him how to make a good catch despite the fact that other guys didn’t want a rookie to tag himself along and replace one of their buddies.

                        Life off the field for many of the players revolved around family and friends but to much deeper extents the players would link up with their seniors and talk about the good old times. Uncle Robbie, for instance, being a baseball sound minded person and an approachable manager would go for hunting and fishing. At the Dover Hall fishing and hunting place was a place he could talk about Baltimore Orioles and forget about ball game. Lefty O’Doul points out that ballplayers don’t entirely talk about baseball but would rather be involved in talks about stocks, commercials, bonds, real estate and personal projects that reflect further from the field of baseball.

                         They would also meet at the drugstore and talk about the matches that had the record-breaking pitches and the players who had performed tremendously. This was a culture that was passed on to the generations that were forthcoming and they would be the basis of efficient baseball techniques applicable in the turn of the 20th

century and the forthcoming centuries. Among other off-pitch activities were vacations. To Sam Crawford, baseball was a field he viewed full of real individualists whom unlike the sportsmen of the current era they can never be forgotten. He on the other hand preferred reading during the times he was off the pitch. This case was however not the normal routine after years of study due to the moral erosion experienced in the world of bombings and killings that not only compromise the living standards but also baseball has suffered negligence from the society. The sport that once ruled the human operations is played by young children.

                             Life after the filed seemed somehow doomed to those who did not have their career ruined by unwise decisions of club business owners. Harry Hooper later found himself in the club that was owned by a person known as Harry Frazee. His career went south after the owner sold off all of the best men and ended up destroying the entire team. Having been peddled to Chicago for a three-year contract, he did not stay for long but got his contract revoked. He went into the real estate business, coached baseball at Princeton for years but later worked temporarily as a postmaster for 25 years. In 1923 individuals like Joe Wood on the other hand after being a ballplayer for quite some time was offered a job as a coach at Yale for 20 years. The life of ballplayers after the success of their career narrowed down them becoming coaches in schools.

                       Many opted to pursue the fields they would have at first pursued if it was not for the success of their skills in baseball. Though some retired as baseball coaches, many of this veteran chose to remain as family guys in that upon retirement all that they could later do was wake up in the morning and read the papers after which the normal schedule out of the pitch would follow.

                         Davy Jones, for instance, went ahead and started a drug store right before he was done with baseball. In 1915 when he finally decided to end his baseball career he decided to follow the path of pharmacy which he pursued during his free time but later decided to do it as a course that later granted him the chance to pursue drugs as a career until he retired thirty-five years later. For Hunk Greenberg, World War 2 came was the end of his baseball career that he had practiced for close to four years and a half. Hugh Mulcahy was the first baseball player to have joined the armed forces in 1941and did not get back to baseball until 1945 at the prisons annual game.

Works cited

Lawrence S. Ritter, The Glory Of Their Times (Perennial, 2012)

November 24, 2023

Entertainment Sports

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