Baseball - Then and Now

Monday, March 31, 2008

As the season opens, Fay Vincent, former baseball commissioner and author of We Would Have Played for Nothing: Baseball Stars of the 1950s and 1960s Talk About the Game They Loved looks back to the pre-free agency (and pre-steroid) era.


Fay Vincent

Comments [30]

Amy from Manhattan

1. I didn't think Bush was talking about the difference between what baseball players & players in other sports make but how much more baseball players make now than in the "old days."

2. Gene (comment 24), I can identify w/you. I grew up in DC, & we lost the Senators when I was 17. (They were moved to Arlington, TX & became the Rangers--yes, what was later Bush's team!) My issues may be different, but I did lose interest. Glad DC has the Nationals now!

Apr. 01 2008 01:07 AM
guy catelli from downtown manhattan

ref: #14

Paulo, are WFAN or WBAI-lite the only two possibilites? are there intermediate points along the spectrum, or only one or the other of two poles?

Mar. 31 2008 08:13 PM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Beat you to it, BORED! But you do raise a good additional point about the number of people. You can't always get a game going, and at least with basketball you can go practice on your own.

Mar. 31 2008 11:47 AM

Wow Paulo you beat me to the punch. I can't understand why this point is so hard for people to understand. Its that simple.

Mar. 31 2008 11:46 AM

The reason why inner city kids don't play baseball is pretty easy. To play basketball all you need is a ball. You can play by yourself or with who ever comes to the b-ball courts and wants to play. Baseball you need a lot of people, gloves, bats,and a ball. The only way to get kids to play baseball in most urban communities is the way they play football, in school.

Mar. 31 2008 11:44 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Baseball also requires more gear than basketball. I mean, one of the reason why soccer is so popular in the rest of the world (my home country of Brazil in particular) is because all you need is a ball. Basketball requires a net, but plenty of cities have basketball courts. If inner cities had more baseball fields, the kids would still have to have their own gloves, and at least one of them would have to own a bat and probably extra balls if they wanted to play with their friends.

Mar. 31 2008 11:44 AM

I stopped following baseball when I was 14--when the Dodgers moved to LA.

And I lived in LA. I hated the rottenness of the deal, the destruction of Brooklyn's neighborhood team, and the destruction of the Chavez Ravine neighborhood.

I can understand rooting for your home high school team, I can understand rooting for a team so you can see it play locally for longer.

But to have "loyalty" to these free-agent teams that just happen to be based near where you live is utterly meaningless to me.

Mar. 31 2008 11:40 AM
mn from nyc

That caller is wrong. The unreserved, no alcohol section at Shea is still cheaper than a movie.

Mar. 31 2008 11:39 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

BORED: Ah, well, that's great that they did that. I'm not really a big sports fan (although I'm getting more into it all the time), so I hadn't heard about that.

With regards to the topic of salaries: I don't think people necessarily perceive the players as greedy themselves. It seems to me that people are just more astonished that teams would pay these ridiculous salaries in the first place. I don't particularly care because I think the teams can spend their money however they want, but it does seem incredible.

Mar. 31 2008 11:39 AM
Leonardo Andres

So according to Brian is the revenue that is driving up the salaries of all this baseball players. Well the revenue is brought on by the fans, So are the fans to blame for accepting to pay all this ridiculous prices?

Mar. 31 2008 11:38 AM
Scott Roche from Park Slope

One reason for the decline of baseball among inner-city youth is the lack of access to fields. There are basketball courts everywhere, but baseball fields for little leagues aren't as readily available. Over the past years - at least in NYC - fields that had been leased to little leagues were taken over for development plans, some of which weren't ever realized... the parks department has also reduced permits. Scandals with embezzlement also led to the decline of several little league charters that I know of over the past 20 years.

Mar. 31 2008 11:38 AM
James from New York

Don't really understand the anecdote about Mickey Mantle's alcoholism. Why did he ask Whitey Ford why he wasn't an alcoholic like Mantle was? Are we to understand that ALL baseball players...or ALL star baseball players are alcoholics & so if we come upon one who isn't, that is a curiosity that raises the question why they aren't? I would have thought the opposite - that most baseball players are NOT alcoholics - that it is the norm to NOT be an alcoholic - and the question should be to the alcoholic why they ARE an alcoholic. Sorta like with non-baseball players.

Mar. 31 2008 11:38 AM

@ Paulo the Yankees played a spring trainig game @ VT for charity.

Mar. 31 2008 11:36 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I wasn't saying I was against the civil rights game, BORED. I was just saying I didn't really understand why they tied it to the death of MLK as opposed to something like the integration of the sport in which there's a much more clear connection between the two subjects.

Also, I don't know what you're talking about with regards to the Yankees and the Virginia Tech shooting.

Mar. 31 2008 11:33 AM
Mike from Jersey City from Jersey City


from a Met fan since 1964

Mar. 31 2008 11:32 AM
Melinda Richardson from New York, NY

While I completely agree with Brian's wincing at President Bush's alleged over-encouragement of inner-city youth to pursue even an NCAA career, I also think that encouraging these youth to find structure and discipline in sports is a very positive step and programs like RBI can do just this. I may be wrong, but I believe it was an NPR program where I heard that a neuroscience study showed that the poor urban child's brain could develop differently due to stress factors in inner city environments. Perhaps programs like RBI could be the perfect outlet for stress relief for these children. Thanks for this great program!

Mar. 31 2008 11:31 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Well, guy, this isn't WFAN. This isn't really a discussion about baseball but rather baseball's interaction with the rest of society.

Mar. 31 2008 11:31 AM

Paulo honestly is it the worst thing in the world. What did the shootings at Virgina Tech have to do with the Yankees nothing but who cares it was a nice gesture.

Mar. 31 2008 11:29 AM
guy catelli from downtown manhattan

dear Brian,

i used to naively believe that baseball had something to do with runs scored, pitching, fielding, and so forth.

now i find out that it is exclusively about class struggle (broadly defined).

thanks for setting the record straight.

your fan,


Mar. 31 2008 11:28 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

If getting a sports contract is Plan A and selling drugs is Plan B, there's a problem. Talented kids in sports have to shoot for professional sports but plan for an education in case that doesn't pan out. There are millions of inner city kids and barely thousands of available professional sports positions in all the sports combined. Saying that one sport becoming popular again in the inner city is really going to make any kind of difference in the economic lives of the kids there is absurd and somewhat shocking.

Mar. 31 2008 11:27 AM

rap music & drugs?

Mar. 31 2008 11:24 AM
Mike from Northern Manhattan

Good point about saying that it's not good about the Prez. to say the contracts in b-ball are bigger than in other sports. I remember in Indaina, a couple of clued in teachers would say dream, but not as a professional basketball, football, and basketball player.

Mar. 31 2008 11:23 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Yes... baseball contracts will save the inner city kids from poverty! Forget about better schools and all that other junk.

Mar. 31 2008 11:17 AM
Leonardo Andres

#3 I totally agree with you. It is no longer a sport for everyone to enjoy, but it is turning into events that only affluent people are able to afford. Once something turns into a money making machine, it looses any backyard spirit that it used to have.

Mar. 31 2008 11:16 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I don't really understand the thought behind this "civil rights game". I'm not against it, but I don't really get the correlation. I mean, if they tied it to a celebration of baseball's integration, I could see a connection. But I really don't see what the assasination of Dr. King has to do with baseball.

Mar. 31 2008 11:15 AM

@Michael you or usually on point but to say that Free agency has ruined the game is just wrong.

Mar. 31 2008 11:13 AM
Katie from Forest Hills

Mets fan. Go Mets!

Mar. 31 2008 11:11 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

And let's not forget the fact that baseball fields with tasteful, thoughtful names are being replaced by fields named after the corporations that have bought the naming rights.

The spirit has been almost completely leeched out of the game... and sports in general for that matter.

Mar. 31 2008 11:10 AM
michael winslow from INWOOD

Free agency has destroyed the game.

Certain teams are going to be in the top ten every year with a few exceptions.

Will the Royals ever make it to the World Series with current ownership. Of course not. They are basically a farm team.

These out of control saleries make it impossible for the average person to go to the game. Not to mention to watch the Yankees on TV you have to pay. This is outrageous!

And I'm a Yankee fan.

Also because salaries on profits are so out of control the tax payer has to pay for building new stadiums and then can't afford to go to the game.

How about one game where everything is Free because the taxpayer has paid for everything.

Imagine in any city paying 3 billion for two stadiums in the same year.

Mar. 31 2008 10:24 AM
George Fernandez from Warwick, NY

I just want to put one thing out there quickly. Many people have expressed resentment about players big salaries. I don't ever remember hearing those complaints about owners making big profits, who didn't risk so much as a pinky joint. If we are to believe in Free Commerce then, players should make what they are worth. ...but they should all have peformance clauses, and these should take into account external factors not actionable by the player.

The steroids thing is sad and regrettable. My main sport is basketball, playing not watching, but I recognize baseball as truly America's game and everyone involved should conduct themselves accordingly. We look to sports to get away from our daily troubles and these are, yet again, troubling times.

Mar. 31 2008 10:15 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.