Loran Smith: Sports and Reminiscing

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Loran Smith: Sports and Reminiscing

Loran Smith
Loran Smith

One of my pastimes is reminiscing which seems to be gathering steam as I count my birthdays.

The time for reflection most often comes about at the start of baseball season.  It causes me to flash back to my days on the farm where there was no television—only scratchy static on an old Philco radio.   We couldn’t afford a daily newspaper but if we had, the baseball scores would arrive at least a day late, sometimes, two.





I saved my pennies and couldn’t wait to buy a copy of SPORT Magazine and read the in-depth stories on players like Robin Roberts, Dom DiMaggio, Duke Snider, Bob Feller and Warren Spahn.

The teams they played for were as far away as Saturn and Jupiter.  However, I knew about Fenway Park and the Green Monster, the wall in left field.  I was aware that Yankee Stadium was the “House that Ruth Built.”  I knew that the ivy on the walls of Wrigley Field would turn green with the passing of time, about cotton chopping time in May.

There was a deep and abiding passion for the game of baseball.  I read every book at the county library about baseball.   I dreamed of going to a Big-League baseball game someday and then chastised myself about the pure folly of my day dreaming.





Then it happened.  My senior class took a trip following graduation to Washington and New York.  Our coach was from Valdosta and knew Ellis Clary, a journeyman player with the Washington Senators and St. Louis Browns.

At the time of our trip, Clary had become a coach for the Senators.  Our coach called Clary who found bleacher tickets for a group of us, and we were overwhelmed when he invited us in the locker room after the game and regaled us with his unvarnished profanity.   We never knew anybody could cuss like that.  Little did I know that such commentary was standard with America’s pastime.

When we got to New York, our coach took us out to Yankee Stadium for a game, buying bleacher seats for us wide-eyed country boys.  Mickey Mantle hit a batting practice home run in the area where we were sitting.  

Today, I am often amused by the fact that the Braves play in the classiest ballpark in the majors and only an hour and a half away from my front door.  Even with access to a media credential, I would rather watch the Braves on TV.

I have had the good fortune to get to know many ole timers in the Atlanta area.  It is fun to interact with them and reminisce about their time in the Big Time.  It is also interesting to see how affluent they became playing a game for a living.

A player who spent ten years in baseball with any degree of success in recent times more than likely earned in excess of 100 million dollars. The Super Stars can’t count all the money they make.  Even so, many of them squander their fortunes.

You think about the ole timers who didn’t save any money and didn’t invest any of it and had to eek out a living with pedestrian jobs that barely kept them off relief rolls.

Then there was Ty Cobb who bought General Motors and Coca-Cola stock which made him a wealthy man.   Cobb’s success is a reminder that there has always been opportunity in sports if you take advantage of your options.

While I do not know the details of the contracts that the players and the clubs engage in today, it sure seems that everybody is making money.   The owners certainly don’t experience any red ink today if they own a Big-League ball club.

The pure fun of the game, dating back to balls wrapped in friction tape and bats repaired over and over, has remained the same.  Kids no longer choose up sides and play for the fun of it.

They have parents and coaches who are reminding them that if they play well enough, they might make it to the Major Leagues and earn a hundred million dollars and retire before they are forty years old.





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