Baseball is in the air and the Major League teams are spring training in the warm spots of the U.S. It’s amazing how things have changed in the game during the years I’ve been a baseball fan and I reach back a long time ago.
In yesteryears, I attended games at Cleveland’s League Park at E. 66th and Lexington Ave. Municipal Stadium was “down the pike.” League Park’s capacity was about 25,000 and seldom ever filled. It was 290 feet down the right field line to the high wall with chicken wire. Tribe first baseman, #7 Hal Trosky, was my favorite and I was happy when he belted one over the fence onto Lexington. If someone retrieved the ball and brought it back to the park they got a free ticket. I got free tickets because I had perfect attendance at school. At the time, box seats were $1.65 and reserve were $1.35. I was part of the general admission or free ticket, upper-right field crowd.
My favorite ballplayers early on were Indian pitching ace Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, and Mike Garcia. Those guys made peanuts compared to what players are paid today. Over the years, I watched some of the greats like Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, the “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams and Jimmy Fox of the Boston Red Sox, and Hal Newhouser and Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers. At today’s wages, the owners would have had to give them the franchise or a chunk of the gate.
In those early times the Tribe had a bunch of stars like outfielders Joe Vosmik, Earl Averill, Bruce Campbell, Jeff Heath, and “Thunder Weatherly.” In the infield were infielder player-manager Lou Boudreau, Kenny Keltner and second baseman Ray Mack. These players didn’t drive a Maserati or Benz to the ballpark. Some actually went by streetcars.
Today’s game broadcasting media never had it so good. They travel wherever the team plays. In early times, announcer Jack Graney never left his ticker tape machine. When the Indians were on the road, he recreated all the games from Cleveland as the info came across the machine. Graney and his sidekick, Pinky Hunter, made it sound like they were at the game.
No question about it, today’s game is big-time in production and accommodations but yesteryear’s diamond in the rough game and players set the field for today’s double, triple and homerun baseball parks, rewards and riches.