Atlantic City Press - April 8, 1980

Baseball Strike:  It Is Just A Long Rain Delay


Special to The Press From Newsday


Baseball season? It’s been done. Many times. And once something is done really well — Rocky Colavito's bat-pointing, Nellie Fox' chaw, Rip Sewell’s eephus, Frank Robinson's high stirrups — why, what’s to shoot for? Only takes one Do you really think that Craig Swan can keep the ball on the back part of the plate any better than Eddie Lopat? Or that Ruppert Jones can roam the outfield better than Terry Moore? 


See there. Already, we're out of the ballpark and in the friendly confines of the mind. There is more good baseball in one fan's mind than could reasonably be crammed into the 1980 season. A players’ strike can't wipe out those memories any more than the traditional early-season weather (N.Y. at Chi., ppd., snow). The conventional wisdom which so emphasizes history in baseball (“This is the last year Dal Maxvill is eligible to be voted into Cooperstown…”) would likewise indicate that we can live without this season. Let 'em strike; we still haven't settled whether Willie Mays was better than Mickey Mantle. 


A strike would rob us of such expendable routines as Conferences at the Mound. The Ride in from the Bullpen. Scoreboard Messages (“Welcome Quogue Shriners”). Intentional walks with two men on (Boool). It’s true that we also would lose some far more flavorful and valuable routines such as batting practice and third-base signs. But the really important stuff already is stored safely in back copies of The Sporting News, safely between the ears (and under the cap of his team) of the fan. 


If there’s a strike, we could treat it as one huge rain delay. So while the grounds crew is putting down the tarp and we have a little time here, think of how much time there is to kill around a baseball game. And how killing time adds to the status of souvenir stands, radio announcers, those of you keeping score at home, organists, going to the resin bag, scoreboard messages (“Welcome Fishers Island Cub Scouts”), country music (Dizzy Dean singing the “Gray-Speckled Bird”), rhythmic clapping, dusting off home plate. 


Killing time? Can o’ corn. 


Remember Dizzy Dean, right on air during the Game of the Week, bellowing down to the Yanks’ Frank Crosetti as the third-base coach meandered to his position: "Hey, Frankie. Frankie! Up here.” Remember the shadows spreading deep and long across the playing fields of parks so easily identifiable: The terrace in Crosley Field, Cincinnati; the Green Monster in Fenway Park, Boston; the Screen in the Coliseum, Los Angeles; the win-a-suit sign in Ebbets Field, Brooklyn; the ivy in Wrigley Field, Chicago. 


On such diamonds would Minnie Minoso bash into outfield walls, and Jimmy Piersail circle the bases backwards. The 1980 season isn’t necessary because it couldn't possibly bring us these things again, just as it couldn't bring native New Yorkers the Dodgers and Giants again. As far as lots of fans are concerned around here, you could've called a strike in 1958 and nothing would’ve been lost. And there are plenty of other things 1980 couldn't bring us again, like Jackie Robinson, either in terms of social or baseball significance. 


It’s been done.


Baseball still being a radio game, the Vin Scullys and Harry Careys and Bob Princes may be missed during a strike as much as the Dave Parkers and Carlton Fisks. Really, the players can strike if they want as long as they play ball again by next year. There'll be a whole new set of 11- year-olds by then. And by then, the strike will be history, baseball lore.

S.J. Side Lines (excerpt)


Bus to Phillie Game



Fifteen bus seats are left for a trip to the Phillies home opener against Montreal Friday. The fee will provide game ticket, transportation and refreshments. For more information, call My Father's Place Tavern at 625-2800. Proceeds benefit the Eagle's Fly for Leukemia fund.