Wilt Chamberlain… Dizzy Dean… and “John Carlos” Stanton!

MemoryLane2
BobLee
December11/ 2017

Wilt Chamberlain… Dizzy Dean… and “John Carlos” Stanton

They say Time is like a river, not a lake.  It is forever moving… what it looked like a minute ago is now a memory.  Memories are accumulated over a Lifetime.  Every Lifetime is different.  I have been reminded of that the past several weeks.

Not all of you share my interest in Major League Baseball, but humor me. There are lessons in this beyond “the old ballgame”.

I use the collective pronoun “we” when referring to me and 95% of “you” the viewers of this website, I refer to those of us old enough to remember where we were “when Kennedy was shot on Nov 11, 1963”. Oops… Nov 22.  Confused with Sept 11, 2001.

So, I don’t provide footnotes to popular culture references from the 50-60-70s. That’s why God invented Google. … If you google “Hoss Cartwright’s hat” there are 34,000 references. Lord knows how many references to Eddie Haskell or The Edsel.

You may recall an incident 7-8 years ago when the late Danny Lotz and I accompanied UNC BB Great Lennie Rosenbluth to address Sylvia Hatchell’s UNC girls’ basketball team before a big game with UConn. Coach Hatchell gathered her players at mid-court in Dean’s Dome. She introduced Lennie by pointing to his jersey on the front row in The Dome’s infamous “rafters”. Lennie and Wilt

On the theme of prevailing despite being an underdog, Lennie discussed anecdotes from UNC’s fabled 3OT win over Kansas in 1957. One of the memorable moments from that game was “little” Tommy Kearns jumping center against Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain. As Lennie related the story, the 15 girls aged 18-21 were as attentive as one could expect to “some old guy” talking about something they had no clue of… or interest in.

Cutting to the chase… these girls were born in the late 90s. Fifteen years after Michal Jordan’s jumper beat Georgetown in 1982. THAT was ancient history to them. Jordan still has relevant celebrity “cred” but they had zip – zero – nada clue who Wilt Chamberlain was. Nor did they seem to care. I will never forget their vacant stares.

Oh… UConn won the game by 40+ points. Neither Wilt nor Lennie made much difference.

###

Present day… St Louis Cardinals’ fans tout themselves as the “BFIB” – Best Fans In Baseball.

That is a fan-tout like “Kenan Stadium is the most beautiful college stadium in the whole wide world…”. Someone once said it (maybe) and Cardinals fans liked it so they adopted it. It is part of Cardinals Gospel. Every sports fan base has its own “gospel”.

Those BFIBs are very angry BFIBs these days because MLB Superstar Giancarlo Stanton would not accept a trade to The Cardinals (or to The Giants). He has accepted a trade to the New York Yankees.

Stanton’s contract has a No Trade Clause giving him full approval to which teams he could be traded to. That clause is going to become SOP in all pro sports for superstars with mega-contracts. It could change the competitive landscape.

NOTE: A high % of BFIBs think his name is “John Carlos” Stanton rather than Giancarlo Stanton.

He never “dissed” St Louis AT ALL. He simply never had St. Louis on his “places I will play” list. A faction of BFIB will forever “hate John Carlos Stanton”… for what he didn’t do…

I don’t know if “that Fussell woman” at The Duplin Winery is a Cardinals fan. Let’s hope not.

OK… how does Wilt Chamberlain connect to this?

Over the past several weeks Where Will Stanton Go? was THE STORY in MLB.  The BFIB were convinced he would choose St Louis because of a combination of  (1) “our rich baseball history”… (2) those beautiful “Birds On The Bat” uniforms… and (3) “we have an Arch”.

Using that logic… semi-literate 17 y/o recruits will choose UNC because of (1) Lawrence Taylor… (2) Charles Kuralt and (3) Thomas Wolfe wrote Look Homeward Angel.  You think Dave Doeren uses Roman Gabriel as a recruiting “closer”? I doubt it.Stan Musial

Giancarlo was born in 1990. IF he could pick Stan Musial out of a line-up of ten players from the 50s, I would be shocked. He certainly never copied Stan’s stance while playing wiffle ball.

He never heard of Dizzy Dean or Enos Slaughter. Unlike 95% of CardinalsNation he never listened to Harry Caray or Jack Buck do Cardinals’ play-by-play over KMOX in the 60-70-80s. He was born in 1990.

If he knows anything about Cardinals Baseball History it MIGHT be Mark McGwire’s duel with Sammy Sosa in 1998. Anything before that is “Wilt Who?”

What he knows about “St. Louis” likely includes the word “Ferguson”. No Cardinals player lives anywhere near “Ferguson”… or Pruitt Iagoe. I’m certain Stanton has never heard of Pruitt Iagoe.

The Cardinals’ BFIB do turn out 40,000 strong for 82 games each year.  So do fans for the LAD, SFG, Cubs, BOS and NYY.

Stanton is a 28 y/o single mega-millionaire who currently lives in a $6.7M ocean-front penthouse condo in Miami.  St. Louis does have high rise condos overlooking the Mississippi and The Arch but ….

Stanton condo

He is from Greater Los Angeles and a lifelong (28 years = lifelong) Dodger fan but probably has never heard of Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Walter Alston or The Carls – Furillo and Erskine. Has he heard of Steve Garvey and “The Penguin” Ron Cey? Kirk Gibson’s homerun was in 1988.

I am not making light of Stanton’s age… or the age of those UNC girls listening to Lennie. I am simply reminding all of us that “we” carry our memories accumulated over 40-50-60 years. Our long-term memories are supposedly keener than “where did I put my car keys”.

New NCSU BB coach Kevin Keatts was born in 1972. He was TWO years old “when David Thompson fell in Reynolds” in 1974. He may be the ONLY NCSU employee or fan still alive that was NOT in Reynolds when David fell.

We get older… BUT the current crop of college / pro athletes are always 18-30 y/o. You have never been further removed from “20 years old” than you are right now. Until tomorrow…

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BobLee
  • PTH Reply
    1 month ago

    This is long, I’m sorry, but a true story, one of my favorite childhood memories. In 1954, my parents decided to take the family to Florida on vacation. This was a shock, as it was Feburary, not a school holiday, and my mom and dad were children of the depression and did not take vacations. My brother (12) and I (9) were ecstatic as the trip coinsided with spring training and we were big Brooklyn Dodger fans. ( I have no idea why ) The trip plan took us through Vero Beach or very near and we lobbied hard for a visit to Dodgertown. In those days, baseball was king and nobody cared about spring training with the exception of reporters and several million kids. Our parents not particularly interested in sports, but knowing how interested we were, said they would try to take us.
    .
    Finally the day to leave arrived and we took off from Clinton, NC destined to Florida. My dad owned a restaurant and left a sign on the door saying “Gone to Florida, be back broke!” I remember it was a long trip and we traveled down the east coast of Florida heading south towards Miami The original plan was to go to Miami then head back through central Florida to Gainesville and spend several days with an aunt and uncle and several cousins. On the way we stopped at all the pre-Disney pre-Cape Canaveral tourist attractions, such as Marineland, The Fountain of Youth, Alligator Farms, Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, All you can drink orange juice stands, and roadside attractions while staying at Tourist Courts with swimming pools and shuffle ball courts. We had a ball.
    .
    The trip took longer than my parents had planned and as we neared the Indian River area our parents decided to not go further south and make the turn to Central Florida and then head north towards Gainesville. My dad said he would get up early in morning and take us over to Vero Beach and go to Dodgertown. We got to Vero Beach, found Dodgertown and there was absolutly no one around, it looked deserted. The facility was somewhat stark with a few old wood planked sided buildings and sheds, similar to kids camps like Seagull and Camp Morehead surrounded by five or six really nice baseball fields. Dad parked the car beside one of the fields and we went up to an outfield fence hoping to see some kind of activity. At the fartherest field we could see a guy running from home plate to the outfield fence and my brother and I decided to see if we could get close enough to see who it was. As the fields and fences were arranged we could not get over to where he was running. We walked back over to where we left our dad and we could see someone standing beside him. When we got there dad introduced us to who turned out to be the facilities manager and dad said he had told him that they had a rest day with no practice scheduled and there was a game in Tampa the next day. We were devastated, and then dad said that however the team was gathering for lunch at the clubhouse and the manger would take us over there and see if we could get in for a for a visit since we had come such a long way. We got to meet and talk with Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Don Newcombe, Carl Furillo, Junior Gilliam, Jackie Robinson, and many others, as almost the whole team that was there. The facilties manager even passed around a baseball that many signed. They treated us very politely and actually seemed impressed that we would be that interested in visiting spring training. It was only later that we really appreciated being that close to so many legends of the sport. I was and still remain most impressed that they were that welcoming and friendly. It would never happen today. Oh yea, we lost the baseball before we got out of Florida, played with it.

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      Excellent story. I recall our family’s Trip To Florida… no Dodgers but did do Ripley Believe It Or Not in St Augustine and Cyress Gardens. 🙂

  • TarSpartan Reply
    1 month ago

    1990 means he doesn’t even remember “The Wizard of Oz,” Willie McGee, or Vince Coleman. As an aside, I have never seen an outfield faster than those 1985 Cardinals. Andy Van Slyke was the slowest of the three, and I think he still stole 30 bases that year.

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      I don’t “blame” the Giancarlo Generation for their historical naivite. I never saw Ty Cobb or Walter Johnson or Wee Willie Keeler “hitting’em where they ain’t. Heck, I never saw Ruth & Gehrig except in herky-jerky newsreels. I appreciate the reality of the Passage of Time.
      .
      If anything I blame my own naivite that I ever thought the BFIB were any different from all other fans in 2017. To paraphrase Wee Willie… “…they ain’t”.

  • ENC#1 Reply
    1 month ago

    I know I am not objective but St. Louis Cardinals have a great fan base and organization. Russell, Wilt, Larry Legend, Magic, Jordan and LeBron could play in any decade. Same with Stan the Man, Mickey, Ozzie and many great players in all pro sports. I guess I am finally an “old guy” who educates the “young-bloods” about sport legends from the past.

    Keep on keeping on Bob Lee!!!!

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      They (Cardinals) do indeed have a fine fan base but, like every family, has its less impressive faction. The 50,000 watts of KMOX have done a lot to sustain those fans out in the hinterlands of fly-over country.

  • TheCowdog Reply
    1 month ago

    I get it. These kids are really, really good.
    Across the spectrum, we that know exactly where we were on 11/22/63, would have our asses handed to us.

    Well…Maybe CNR and my old man would win some.
    .

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      I’d like to think the guys in Cooperstown could hold their own today. The eternal conundrum of sports… how eras would compare.

      • Fayettewuf Reply
        1 month ago

        I’d like to think that too. But it is enough that they stood out when they played. It is interesting that the claims that legends could excel today is pretty much confined to baseball, football and basketball. No one says that Johnny Weissmuller, Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe etc. would excel in Olympic sports. I read somewhere that Weissmuller could not make a top high school girls swim team. I personally don’t think it makes any difference whether Walter Johnson could mow down today’s batters or not. He did it when he played.

        • BobLee Reply
          1 month ago

          Comparing players of different eras is an integral part of “being a fan”. Could Babe Ruth hit Clayton Kershaw? IMO, Jim Brown transcends eras… would be a great anywhere any time. Same with Unitas. Wilt and Russell anywhere anytime same with Oscar Robertson. In sports with time clocks such as swimming, track its impossible to say due to dramatic changes in training and nutrition.

          • Fayettewuf
            1 month ago

            I know fans debate things like whether Roger Federer could beat Big Bill Tilden. I don’t. My estimation of a player in any sport is whether he stood head and shoulders over his contemporaries. It is easy to show that track stars, weight lifters, javelin throwers etc. in Jim Brown’s day could not compete with guys today. It makes no sense to me to claim that somehow Jim Brown would stand out in football today. Same is true of Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Wilt Chamberlain, Crazy Legs Hirsch, Pancho Gonzales and even David Thompson. This, to me, does not detract even a little from those legends. They dominated the guys they played against.

  • ultraviolet Reply
    1 month ago

    It never occurred to me how UNC has been able to attract such high level athletes until today. I had an epiphany after reading your column. Clearly Look Homeward Angel has been the main attraction for potential athletes. Knowing Thomas Wolfe once tread those grounds has to be the draw. After all, UNC only recruited stellar, academically advanced, choir boys there while “fill in the blank” only attracted illiterate, behaviorally challenged types. I can’t imagine the pressure all those decades of being virtuous while ankle deep in a cesspool. Fortunately the good guys always win in the long run. The NCAA agrees too.

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      Not too many “starred” recruits know about Sweet Acidopholis milk.

  • Doug Reply
    1 month ago

    Athlete shelf life has always been fascinating. Mention Choo-Choo Justice, Roman Gabriel, Norm Snead, Dick Groat or Sonny Jurgensen to a current crop of college recruits and you’ll get that “look” like when a puppy cocks its head at you when speak to it. The age of ESPN and social media a Micheal Jordan’s shelf life expectancy has been stretched. Shoe contracts and NBA ownership is a game changer. Put MJ in a future group of players or recruits and the reaction will likely be different at least for some unknown period of time. But sooner or later that puppy dog look will return.

    The latest moves by the Yankees might even get me to watch a few games in 2018.

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      It is difficult to study history (sports or otherwise) while playing video games or listening to “a notorious rapper”.

      • Doug Reply
        1 month ago

        I’m sure many parents of our generation said the same thing about kids reading comic books and listening to Elvis Presley.

        • BobLee Reply
          1 month ago

          No doubt. And The Beatles’ hair!

  • Terry.P Reply
    1 month ago

    A Question… with recruiting a “semi-literate 17 y/o” how far back does his memory go with a school’s sport’s history?

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      Excellent question… IMO, with remembering a school’s former “famous athletes” it depends on (1) are they still active in the NBA / NLF / MLB… such as Russell Wilson and Phillip Rivers versus a Torrey Holt. Sure they know RW and PR. (2) How “famous” was the former player? Certainly MJ is an anomaly. Can UNC still “sell” Tyler Hansbrough? I doubt it. Danny Green is more sellable now than Hansbrough. Can NCSU still sell David Thompson? No. Can UNC sell Phil Ford? No. Can Duke sell Grant Hill or Laettner? Nope.
      .
      As for the program’s prominence to a 17 y/o… that only goes back 3-4 years. ZERO recruits care about TA’s knee or some Whozit Bowl 6-8 years ago. When recruits look up into UNC’s rafters, they only recognize 3-4 recent names.

  • BobLee Reply
    1 month ago

    I recently received a Reader Comment that called me “…a thin-skinned blowhard with zero credibility”. Why would he / anyone think I was “thin-skinned” ?? … He noted he is “a conservative” but did not note his college team preference. Oh well…
    .
    I was going to share that one with my friend Dan Kane, but that would not make DDK’s Top 100 “nastys” on a given day. I used to get “those” fairly regularly, but not so much any more. It’s a good reminder to keep my concealed-carry permit up-dated. These be troubling times…

  • Jim Hardison Reply
    1 month ago

    It was November 22nd that fateful day in 1963. Were you just seeing who was paying attention? Yes, I was in the 9th grade.

    • BobLee Reply
      1 month ago

      YIKES! Got it confused with Sept 11, 2001. 11… 22 ?? One of those double digit dates.

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