Thursday, February 10, 2011

We Are Getting Closer

The trucks are packed and ready for Spring Training. I can already smell the freshly cut grass and hear the scream from the field, "play ball!"

Today, the Dodgers packed up the truck and is ready to head out to Camelback in preparation for some Spring Baseball.

RIP: Tony Malinosky

As many of you have already heard, the oldest living Baseball player, Tony Malinosky, passed away on Tuesday. He played 35 games for the 1937 Brooklyn Dodgers. He was 101 years old. Be sure to check out Jon's post at Dodger Thoughts that includes a link at the bottom featuring a fairly recent audio interview with Malinosky. It is always great to hear from old-timers. Go here.

Bitter Brooklyn

With the Dodgers set to wear vintage throwback Brooklyn Dodger uniforms this season the screams, whines and catcalls from some of the old Brooklyn faithful have gotten louder. They certainly know how to hold a grudge, eh?

Of course, this is nothing new. Who can forget Neil Diamond's live performance of "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway last year while wearing a jacket with the words "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn" emblazoned on his back.

Well, now we have a article from the NY Daily News that continues to push the meme that Brooklyn belongs to them and not the team in Los Angeles.

"Are they nuts?" asked Nick Fiore, 81, of Brooklyn, a member of the Dodgers' Sym-Phony that used play at Ebbets Field.

"So they're going to be the Los Angeles-Brooklyn Dodgers?" Fiore asked mockingly. "These days, anything will happen."

I guess I can't blame them. I'd be pissed too. Heck, I hate the Rams for leaving and have been totally turned off by football as a result. Of course, I doubt I'd still harbor a grudge after 50 years. After all, at a certain point you have to let bygones be bygones.

On the other hand, the Brooklyn situation has been described as entirely different. That the team and the borough had a special relationship, much like the love of a husband and wife, and when the team left many felt it was like a lover leaving you for another man. If you listen closely to the Brooklyn faithful you sense that kind of frustration- sounds of a jilted lover.

To emphasize that point I came across two articles that describe the very last Dodger game played at Ebbets Field. From NPR:

To celebrate his 21st birthday, Sherman decided to go to the game. He asked a few friends to come along, but they thought he was crazy.

"You're going to be the only one there," he says they told him. "They're leaving us. The heck with them. We're not interested."

So he went to the game alone.

"The lights were on, the grass was as beautiful as it was the first day of the season," he says. "The players were on the field, but there was no one in the stands. The place was vacant. It was eerie. I could have sat anyplace in the ballpark I wanted.

Gladys Goodding was the organist, and "everything she played was a blue song about losing a lover. And after the game, I remember leaving and she was playing 'Auld Lang Syne,' and then they cut her off in the middle and they put the Dodgers theme song on.

"When I walked out of the Ebbets Field, I stood a block away and just looked back. The lights were still on and I said goodbye. It was over."

Then from the LA Times:

Setting the depressing tone, Vin Scully recalls, was the song selection of organist Gladys Goodding, whose music infused the maudlin mood.

"Gladys was a very nice lady, known to take a drink or three," the longtime Dodgers announcer says. "And Gladys showed up with a paper bag -- and there wasn't any doubt what was in it. It was too late for lunch. . . .

"If I remember correctly, the very first song she played was 'My Buddy,' a pretty down song, and it went down from there. All of us in listening to the music were aware of her mental state, and I'm sure she was dipping into the brown bag, and the music kept getting more depressing every third out.

"It really did have an effect on you. If you had any idea of songs, you knew what she was playing and you also knew what she was doing."

That is some pretty depressing stuff. But, as stated by Jon Weisman the other day, this is about remembering and celebrating the past. We have no interest in bringing up those bad memories, we just want to create new ones.

Legendary Auctions: Jackie's Christmas Card to Gil

It is amazing the kind of stuff you see available at major auction houses. From 19th century trophies to old uniforms, it's hard to imagine they survived after so many decades. When the memorabilia is of a more personal nature it makes me thankful that we get the opportunity to enjoy it.

For instance, check out this great vintage Christmas card available at Legendary Auctions. It is from Jackie Robinson and was mailed to his teammate Gil Hodges. I'll let the auction description detail it for you.

"Dear Gil, It has been a pleasure being a teammate all these years. I hope you have continued success through the years. We expect the day but when it comes it still shocks but that’s baseball. I hope it never comes to you. Give my best to the family. Sincerely Jackie Robinson."

...

There’s little doubt that this card was sent for the holidays at the close of 1956. After ten years of devoted and very able service, Robinson was coldly dealt away by the Dodgers – to the not-so-prospective New York Giants, it will be remembered. Held in the greatest secrecy, the deal was, like a shot out of a cannon, announced on December 13th. In today’s financial climate, ballplayer esprit is first filtered through the wallet. But in Jackie Robinson’s age, many players genuinely contemplated fealty to their teams … sometimes with measured acceptance, and sometimes with justifiable grumbling. Jackie Robinson’s opportunity in 1947 was, as planned, a sweeping benefit to the game, as well as to the nation’s conscience and self esteem. It was the brainchild of Branch Rickey. But Rickey was muscled out, and the reptilian Walter O’Malley presently directed all the Dodger traffic – and in his fast-moving plans, Robinson had to go. Sure, he was shocked, and it’s a safe bet that Gil was deeply sorrowed (and himself empathetically "shocked") by the … executive decision.

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