Paul's blog - Baseball

In 1960, when I was 10 years old,  I returned to the U.S. after living in England.  A lot had changed since I had left the country 3 years earlier.  My old team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, were no more.  We lived in New York, and occasionally I'd go to Yankee Stadium and watch the Yankees play.  I never liked the Yankees.  It never seemed that they needed me as a fan; they had plenty of fans. The worst team in the league in 1960 was the Baltimore Orioles.  I chose them as my team because I felt they needed my support. 
 Brooks Robinson joined the Orioles in 1955.  By 1960, he was on his way to becoming the greatest third baseman that ever lived.  He was the cornerstone of the great infield that the Orioles amassed, which included at their peak Brooks Robinson, Louis Aparicio at Shortstop, Jerry Adair at Second and Jim Gentile on first.  Later on Boog Powell took over at First base.  In the summer I could pick up the Orioles radio signal from Baltimore.  I would lie awake and listen to the games and thrill at the plays that my heroes made, especially Brooks Robinson, who seemed to catch everything that was hit to him; nothing seemed to get by him.  Many times he hit game-winning runs.  He was the ultimate clutch player and his entire career was spent with the Orioles.  Other great players like Frank Robinson, who later managed the Orioles, joined the Baltimore club.  Hoyt Wilhelm, an old guy who was a great knuckleball pitcher, and Jim Palmer.  There was another knuckleball pitcher named Robin Roberts, who was quite old and had a long career.
Back in those days, in the '60s, it seemed to me that the baseball players were a little better athletes all around.  The catchers specifically were much better.  Most of the time, an attempt to steal second resulted in an out.  Today that's not the case.  More often than not, the catcher will throw to the wrong side of the bag if he makes it to the bag at all.  It's a routine play that rarely goes right today.  
  There are some players today that seem to have the same spirit as the old guys.  Derek Jeter has a lot of ability, but you never read about him in any kind of controversy.  He seems like a gentleman, and he seems professional, as baseball players were back in the day.  And Cliff Lee's performance in last year's Series against the Yankees was a throwback to the days of the great pitchers like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Whitey Ford and Jim Palmer.  
They hit better, they threw better, they ran better, they fielded better.  
They tried harder.