What's Right--and Wrong--with Baseball, as Seen from the Best Seat in the House
by Mark Hyman and Jon Miller
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I've made some blanket generalizations in this chapter. Some are true; others I should qualify. Of course it's not accurate to say that every old-timer believes baseball was better in the past than it is now. Many do, but I know of several who are extremely fair-minded on this issue.
I've already told you about Al Jackson. I'll also mention Tommy Henrich, Old Reliable. Mr. Henrich played for some of the great Yankee teams pre- and post-World War II. By all accounts, he was a great player and a gritty player. A clutch one, too: His home run in the ninth inning of Game One of the 1949 World Series gave the Yanks a 1-0 win over Don Newcombe and the Dodgers, and is a great Series moment.
A few years ago, I spoke at a charity banquet in New Jersey honoring Gene Michael, who has had the rare honor of working for the Yankees as a player, scout, manager, and general manager. Tommy was one of the head-table guests at the affair, and afterward, we happened to share a limo from some country club in Jersey back into midtown Manhattan, a forty-five-minute ride.
The whole trip, we had a discussion about the players in the old days and the players of today. Tommy agreed with me entirely: There were a lot of outstanding players in the game today who could have played in any era, he said.
Tommy was proud of the teams he played on and thought that the Yankees of his era could have competed with anybody. But he was very willing to give the current players their due. He was very impressed with them and still enjoyed the game as a fan.
I wanted to ask him if he believed in juiced baseballs, but I thought better of it.
I began this chapter by talking about how the players of the nineties will likely be viewed as better, stronger, and probably smarter than the players of 2018 or so. I believe that baseball is better now then it's ever been. But there's one more thing I can predict with absolute safety: When we say these things in 2018, we'll be just as wrong as everyone has been in every era. In sports, athletes only get better. The Golden Age is now. Always.
Copyright © 1998 by Jon Miller and Mark Hyman. Excerpted with permission.