In 1934, Lefty Gomez, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and other American League and National League stars barnstormed in Japan. Gomez captured many images of the trip with his 16-mm camera. An excerpt from the forthcoming book Lefty: American Odyssey is featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated. Some of the intriguing video footage can be viewed, courtesy of Random House.
The video, described as “never-seen-before footage,” is compelling by itself. The included narrative successfully adds perspective to what would have been the perception of Babe Ruth travelling abroad to a country where he was revered. There is also the added perception of what the experience would have been like for the American baseball stars. This adds a great deal of depth and meaning to Lefty’s remarkable video.
The book can be previewed and purchased through Random House.
I blogged yesterday about Chipper Jones’ retirement and mentioned that he spent his entire career with one team. That is a feat that is becoming more rare with each passing year and it is just about extinct. There are many reasons why players don’t stay with the same team their whole career, but I would love to see that part of the game returned.
When a player is on one team for all, or at least, most of his career, fans are able to get behind them, as well as their team. If your favorite player leaves a team for free agency, then you are less likely to keep following that team and you might get tired of following that player around from team to team and give up all together. Yankees’ fans in the 50s could count on Mickey Mantle being a Yankee year after year. Twins’ fans in the 60s could count on Harmon Killebrew being in the lineup. Reds’ fans in the 70s could count on Johnny Bench. Padres’ and Orioles’ fans could count on Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken being there for them. In the 90s, the last of that dying breed seemed to be Chipper Jones.
It is certainly not a new part of the game. Ty Cobb ended his career on the A’s, Babe Ruth was on four different teams, and Frank Robinson played on the Reds and the Orioles. However, with the advent of free agency, it seems almost impossible that a player would ever stay on one team.
I don’t fault the players to an extent. A lot of the time, it is out of their control. Most of them don’t control when they are traded, and sometimes the team they are on just simply cannot make them an offer that reflects their value. It is the player’s fault when his current team actively tries to sign him with generous offers and he chooses another team instead. The message that this sends to fans is that the team is not worth being on, so why would it be worth it to follow it?
If players were more willing to stay on their team there would be more stability to teams and allow them build a successful team around them. I know that not every team would be able to do this, but a lot of teams would be able to. This could have a huge impact on the game, and I would welcome it.