Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wahoo Sam


"So you're doing a book about baseball in the old days. Why does a young fellow like you want to spend his time on something like that? Do you remember what Robert Ingersoll used to say? 'Let the dead past bury its dead.' That's what he used to say. Robert Ingersoll, remember him? A great man. I always admired him. He was a very famous lecturer in the late 1800s. Very famous and very controversial. He was supposed to be an atheist, but he wasn't really. More a skeptic, more an agnostic, than an atheist. You should read his Lectures some time. Very interesting. Now he's forgotten. Hardly anybody remembers his name any more. That probably proves something, but I'm not sure what.

"Anyway, those days are all back in the past. We're going to spend the rest of our lives in the future, not the past: 'Let the dead past bury its dead.' On the other hand, Santayana said: 'Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.' So maybe there are two sides to this matter. But I don't think we'll ever repeat the old days in baseball. They'll never come back. Everything has changed too much."

-- Sam Crawford, to Lawrence S. Ritter, in The Glory of Their Times.

Baseball star Wahoo Sam Crawford was born on this day in 1880 in (where else?) Wahoo, Nebraska. Though considered to be somewhat prickly and a prima donna by some of his contemporaries, rightfielder Sam Crawford was at least more popular with Detroit fans than his teammate in centerfield, the paranoiac, violent Ty Cobb. Crawford's popularity and established stardom at the time of Cobb's arrival in Detroit caused a career-long personal rift between the two men. Nevertheless, the usually unforgiving Cobb campaigned strenuously for Crawford's election to the Hall of Fame, such was his admiration for Crawford's abilities.

Crawford was, and still is, the greatest triples hitter in history, holding the lifetime record with 312 -- 15 more than Ty Cobb -- and finished his major league career in 1917 just 36 hits hits shy of 3,000. As Ritter would note, "Most baseball writers of that period agree that Sam Crawford was the outstanding power hitter of the dead ball era."

Sam Crawford died on June 15, 1968 in Hollywood, California.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Tom Thompson said...

Was there any connection to Chief Wahoo of the Indians?

11:21 AM  
Blogger RSchuler said...

Only that they both seem to be a part of the old baseball that will never come back -- for better or worse. The Indians unveiled the Chief Wahoo logo in 1933 (long after Crawford was out of the game). For some time now, however, there have been calls for Chief Wahoo's removal due to racial insensitivity, the former mayor of Cleveland even going so far as to suggest a municipal ban of Chief Wahoo in Cleveland that might have resulted in the Indians' forfeiting their rights to play in Jacobs Field. It looks like Chief Wahoo's days may be numbered.

11:50 AM  

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