The Baseball Scholars

A few weeks back, I and my friends, Nnelg and Retep, went on a road trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Somehow, despite being a huge baseball fan when I was young, I’d never made a pilgrimage to this baseball mecca.

"The Georgia Peach"

“The Georgia Peach”

Because it was early in May, the place was almost empty–just us and the ghosts of my youth.  I still have an enormous amount of baseball trivia in my head, almost all of it predating 1970; and it turns out this kind of information is nowhere more useful  than it is at the Hall.  Because Nnelg and I share a lot of the same information (with the occasional far-flung fact that only one of us knows), a lot of our time was spent having fun spouting every statistic, nickname and anecdote that came to our minds as we looked at plaques with the images of Hall of Famers.   Retep, on the other hand, seemed to be less devoted to these childhood facts.  Which was odd, considering that he’s written several books about baseball.  Who knows. . . maybe when you put these things down on paper it empties your brain of the information.  It’s either in one place or the other, not both.  (Which makes me wonder what kinds of information has left my mind over the years and is now smeared all over my blog.  A horrifying thought!)

The Hall has an assortment of exhibits, some which are dedicated to specific ethnicities; for example there’s a whole section devoted to the Negro Leagues and another that highlights the influence that Latin players have had on the Game.  We scoured the place but couldn’t find any equivalent for the Jewish contingent in the Hall.  That’s probably because there are only three Jewish ball players enshrined there.  Not nearly enough for a minyan let alone a separate wing.  To compensate for this paucity,  Retep, Nnelg and I put our heads together and quickly realized that there are a ton of well-known anti-Semitic Hall of Famers (not the least of whom was the very first inductee to the Hall–Ty Cobb) which, if put together as a collection, could make up an interesting exhibit that might occupy much of the second floor.   On our way out, we mentioned our brainstorm to the security guard at the door.  He didn’t seem impressed.

A few days after my return to Brooklyn, I had dinner with Yduj and a friend of hers, D.  When I mentioned that I had just been to the Baseball Hall of Fame, D told us that she had recently gone to a Mets game with her two sons.  When I asked if they were big Met fans she said that they were more than fans; that they knew everything about the Mets  players, their opponents and all sorts of strategies that the teams used.  She concluded by saying that, in fact, her sons were baseball scholars.

That statement had quite an impact on me; I’ve spent a good portion of my adult social life playing down all the baseball nonsense that I have stored in my head because I’ve been afraid that I’d be seen as just some dumb jock.  And now I find out that by minimizing the importance of this information I may have  obscured the fact that I’m actually an intellectual of some sort. Who knew!

And by the way, did you know that Ty Cobb’s lifetime batting average is .366  or that the Major League record for most RBI’s in a season is held by Hack Wilson (190) or that Walter Johnson pitched 110 shutouts in his career or that . . .

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6 Responses to “The Baseball Scholars”

  1. RB Says:

    Tell me about Jake Pitler.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      sounds like you want a bedtime story. someone with as much time on his hands as I have should look him up. all i remember is that he didn’t coach on the high holidays.

  2. Ymmij Says:

    Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax and who’s the third–Lou Boudreau, Al Rosen?

  3. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    very good ymmij! you’re invited to the next Hall trip. it’s Lou Boudreau (altho with some caveats which i won’t go into here). Al Rosen was not electted to the Hall because…well, you know.

  4. RB Says:

    Lou Boudreau? Are you guys for real? This has turned my world upside down.

  5. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    rich.. you should have been there. you would have loved it. well…it’s lou boudreau with an asterisk. mother was jewish; raised catholic. we’re desperate!

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