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”.
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.
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 ….
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…