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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

The Good Old Days of Baseball

When I was a child I use to love the spring. The Birds were chirping, bullfrogs barking, and the smell of fresh cut grass (lawns). It was an exciting time. The death of winter followed by the resurrection of spring.

All of that meant one thing to me, baseball! I loved it. I would play whenever I could find someone to play with. If I couldn’t, I would throw a ball against a retaining wall made of cross ties.

I had it all laid out, as to what was a single, double and so on. I was never bored back then.

I would look at the newspaper, at the players statistics and check how the Yankees were doing. The closest big league team to us was the Cincinnati Reds. My father said he hated them, but he never missed a game on the radio, cussing announcer Waite Hoyt all the while.

Even though I loved the Yankees, I knew the Reds lineup backwards and forwards. I knew them all, Robinson, Pinson, Post, Lynch, Coleman, Blasingame, Purkey, O’Toole, Maloney, etc. I could go on and on, but I do digress as habit forces me.

That was an unmatched time in my life. Nothing later could compare with that time of the year. Looking back, I am amazed at how happy I was.

We were as poor as you could be without being in the Poorhouse (whatever that was). Commodity Cheese, free shoes courtesy of the Elks Club. I often wondered what BPOE meant. The B stands for benevolent which they truly were.

I wore hand-me-downs from my cousin (nice clothes) and wasn’t ashamed. To be truthful, I didn’t realize we were poor until I was in the seventh grade.

The first six years were in a four-room school house and everybody (I think) was relatively lower class, some worse than others. If you surround yourself with poor people, you don’t look or feel poor

But when the lights are turned on and you get a glimpse of the real world, you see how nice some people have it.

Baseball’s Opening Day was something else. Back then, the Reds played the only game on Opening Day. It was a day game. I would run home from school and catch the last few innings on our old black and white television, with my Dad.

Of course, if the Reds were winning, he was cussing. I don’t recall him ever missing a game on the radio as long as I knew him. I’m sure he did miss some, but I never heard about them.

Baseball was a kid’s sport back then. You had heroes, legitimate men you could look up to. I speak of Stan (The Man) Musial, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks, etc. The list would run without caution if I allowed it.

You see Mantle’s name and laugh. Keep in mind, in those days you didn’t know every time a player farted in front of someone. The bad things never were revealed.

All these men had a few things in common. They were great players, they were hard workers, they were gentlemen and they never left the team they first signed with.

I know it sounds crazy but I think many of those guys back then would have played for free. Sneer if you well, but I believe it.

It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the salaries some of these guys make today. Roger Maris only made around $37,000 when he broke Ruth’s HR record for a season. Some players make more than that in three innings (no joke).

Just about every player had to have a ‘real’ job after the season was over, just to keep the boat floating.

Money is the only issue today. How much more can a man make? If A-Rod had a time machine, he could strap into the DeLorean, go back to 1961 with his wallet, and buy the whole damn Major League.

Those were the days. Pitchers often threw complete game shutouts back then. Did you hear me kids? Complete game shutouts. Someone did it seemingly every few days. Those were studs back then. Marichal, Koufax, Drysdale, Gibson, Spahn, Ford.

You gave them the ball and you didn’t have to worry much about your bullpen. And you surely didn’t count his friggin’ pitches!

Today a complete game from a starter is a rarity. Nobody even talks complete games. Now we hear the term ‘quality’ starts bandied about. You know, a guy going six innings and giving up around three Earned Runs or less, blah blah blah. All because they now have a bullpen stocked with specialty relievers.

We have ‘long’ relievers, setup relievers and closers. Not to mention the lefty that just comes out to face Jay Bruce, then goes to the dugout in favor of the right-hander who will face Brandon Phillips and hopefully end the inning.

Back in the day (I’m not quite 100 yet); those starters were flying without a net. Most of them anyway. Koufax and Drysdale had Ron Perranoski to back them up. Whitey Ford had a couple of reliable backup men.

Spahn, Gibson and Marichal flew solo. Not much help for them, as if they needed it.

Disabled List? You had to be wearing a cast or constantly seeing stars to be placed on the DL, if that was even what they called it back then.

Sometimes I really would love to go back to those poverty stricken days. The closest thing to that is to play a video game on the computer.

MVP Baseball by EA Sports is a great simulation. Modders (people who modify games) have taken the best teams from the past and implemented them into the game.

So you can play a game with the ’61 Yankees and the Big Red Machine, at old Yankee Stadium, or Crosley Field if you wanted to. They look like the players and perform the same way, too.

You can’t buy that game, though. EA Sports quit making it and it is hard to come by even on eBay without paying an arm and a leg.

So, sometimes I load the game, set the lineups and just watch. It is even supplied with commentators, Duane Kupier and Mike Krukow.

It kind of reminds me of the old Jim Croce song, ‘If I could save time in a bottle’. Wouldn’t that be nice if we could?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

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