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  • Old Home Run Derbies

    I usually check ESPN Classic to see if it's playing any good baseball stuff. Today, I watched the Home Run Derby, when it was still a show, of Bob Allison vs. Bob Cerv. Disappointed, I looked up other ones. I still found there was a lot of pop-ups and hard grounders

    My friend happened to see it also, and began going on and on about how 1950s and 1960s players were terrible. Given their awful swings and inability to hit home runs on practice pitches, he would have been the greatest of all time in his era. I tried explaining that the training wasn't as advanced as today, that these guys learned their craft from sandlot games and seasoned players/coaches. He wouldn't have any of it.

    The baseline of this generation exceeds that of over fifty years ago, so I wasn't expecting twenty homers in a round. Yet I must admit, I was disappointed to see greats like Mays and Killebrew hopelessly launch into BP balls, sometimes out of the zone, only to send them on the ground by the foul lines or popped up to the shallow outfields. None of them waited on pitches, etc. Someone could win a derby by hitting four homers.

    Perhaps I am missing something. Was the show staged? Was the strike zone exaggerated? Is there some factor that makes these players look like middle-schoolers compared to the stars of today?
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    One thing that was quite different was that called strikes were outs. In today's HR derbies, players can be more selective without any penalty.

    Here's the video for anyone else that wants to watch it.
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xe6...vs-bob-c_sport

    Comment


    • #3
      I obtained a copy of the complete 1965 Game 7 of the world series in which Koufax pitched a 3 hitter and struck out 10 and shut out a hard hitting team 2-0

      I had his original biography from 1966 and was a big fan

      watching the game, he was kind of antsy, had a weird stretch move (he would be OFF the mound, he would take the sign, then amble on the mound in a stretch position - really old-fashioned and weird) had a lot of weird personal mechanisms, was always taking hit hat off in between pitches and just looked a little uncomfortable and weird and not polished

      not what I was expecting to see
      1. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that many players are over-rated due to inflated stats from offensive home parks (and eras)
      2. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Player, Collector and Hobbyist since 1969, visit my strat site: http://forums.delphiforums.com/GamersParadise
      3. My table top gaming blog: http://cary333.blogspot.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        I think those old home run derbies were held in the offseason? If so then likely their timing may have been off.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post
          My friend happened to see it also, and began going on and on about how 1950s and 1960s players were terrible. Given their awful swings and inability to hit home runs on practice pitches, he would have been the greatest of all time in his era. I tried explaining that the training wasn't as advanced as today, that these guys learned their craft from sandlot games and seasoned players/coaches. He wouldn't have any of it.
          I'll get ready to duck after this post; but here goes.

          I have long believed that the decline of sandlot ball that began to accelerate with the Post WW II building boom and highway programs, marked a decline in some very old and traditional bi-products of the whole sandlot mentality:

          1. Kids playing sandlot ball were kin to pictorial essays we see on kids in the D-R playing the game. Often, the baseball in play was one with a tattered cover, its stitches unraveling [at which point, the horsehide just got ripped off to be replaced by black tape ... or, if kids wanted happier simulation, white tape].

          2. Dimensions were pretty indiscriminate and not precisely measured. The mound, if trouble was taken to raise one, was another ad-libbed accommodation best suited to the realities of what the kids had to deal with. If the playing area was near a dumping ground [not a formal, designated garbage collection dump - just a convenient lot], a backstop might well be made of a discarded bed spring. I know this quite well, having played on a few of these "diamonds."

          3. When kids and their teams got serious, they raked the grounds and maybe even threw some grass seed around, after some serious weeding. The KEY was: kids were playing their game to their own group purposes and goals; and the LEADERS came from within that collective body of players. The kid leaders were the ones generally assigning positions, places in the batting order and scheduling games.

          4. At its roots, it wasn't tidy or promising at all. A raggedy bunch of kids, with no uniforms and hand-me-down equipment, learned to EXPECT bad hops as routine and some of the more gifted would be spotted by "outsiders" who wooed them away from "teams" OR were in a position to become sponsors.

          5. The sandlot was the SEED. A sponsor might be a school, a local business, saloon, delicatessen, VFW, Elks, Moose, K of C; or a structure might be provided by a YMCA or similar public service group ... but it was generally "civic pride" inspired and not sponsorship based on the ego of the sponsor or a win-at-any cost mindset that gradually pushed "the kids" into a functional role rather than as the centerpiece for the effort.

          6. Little League is a marvelous concept that has relly put an exciting charge into generation of young lives, with playing conditions and prideful public exposure no sandlotter could have dreamed of. However, endemic to the concept and its evolved glitz and glitter, was adult interference and mediation never there in sandlot days. I had to dwell on the negative, but the conflicting "everybody plays" vs "these can't play" in a win-win promotional atmosphere DID encourage "RINGERS" especilaly as the levels of competition got keener. I believe the concentration on BIG for pitchers is a biproduct of those elements. A whole geneation of kids grew up being overpowered by pitchers; and I suggest that Post WW II through the 1960s we had a hitting wasteland, a product of bad coaching, dismissal of small ball nuances and a collateral increase in "specialization."

          7. Finally, as if young athletes didn't already have enough interference to cope with, along came the aluminum bat. Since 1973, how many LL and NCAA players become convinced ob bat speed [they don't really possess with a wood bat] and a conviction tat contact is secondary to power generated by that bat speed?

          Yes, I confess, I don't find all the "progress" made since the sandlot days as a positive thing in all aspects.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm a Ruth partisan, so hardly unbiased, but I think he'd have done well in any home run derby, anytime, anywhere. He used to put on a show and would literally hit dozens of balls out of the park during BP. In one instance he hit over a hundred out. He would also participate in fungo contests, hitting one 447' according to Marshall Smelser in his The Life That Ruth Built. By any standard that's a tape measure shot, even hit off a pitch. That was a fungo, so he applied all the power. He invariably won these contests against all comers. He even won one after he had retired. Ruth was never afraid of performing in any setting against any competition. He'd have acquited himself quite well in a derby today, no doubt about it. In fact, it would be a perfect showcase for his power.
            ". . . the Ruth, the whole Ruth and nothing but the Ruth . . ."

            Comment


            • #7
              Criminy.

              Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post

              None of them waited on pitches, etc.
              of course not. it was a TV show. it was for fun. what did the winner get, anyhow? a Brand New Refrigerator? a carton of Old Golds?

              Sheesh.

              EDIT:

              Okay, I was wrong. $1000 was indeed a big deal; back then a GM would fight you over a $500/year raise. I should have checked before posting, but I was just annoyed by stuff like "I was disappointed to see greats like Mays and Killebrew hopelessly launch into BP balls ... these players look like middle schoolers compared to the stars of today."


              And yes, the strike zone was "exaggerated" in those days - knees to letters, good thing that rule's been discarded, huh?
              Last edited by westsidegrounds; 09-05-2012, 12:57 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                You may have overthought this one. As I recall Jackie Jensen did quite well in one homerun derby. Today in the derby before the All-Star Game they can juice the balls and bats that would be unavailable for use in an actual game. This may account for a greater number of fence clearing drives.
                Originally posted by leewileyfan View Post
                I'll get ready to duck after this post; but here goes.

                I have long believed that the decline of sandlot ball that began to accelerate with the Post WW II building boom and highway programs, marked a decline in some very old and traditional bi-products of the whole sandlot mentality:

                1. Kids playing sandlot ball were kin to pictorial essays we see on kids in the D-R playing the game. Often, the baseball in play was one with a tattered cover, its stitches unraveling [at which point, the horsehide just got ripped off to be replaced by black tape ... or, if kids wanted happier simulation, white tape].

                2. Dimensions were pretty indiscriminate and not precisely measured. The mound, if trouble was taken to raise one, was another ad-libbed accommodation best suited to the realities of what the kids had to deal with. If the playing area was near a dumping ground [not a formal, designated garbage collection dump - just a convenient lot], a backstop might well be made of a discarded bed spring. I know this quite well, having played on a few of these "diamonds."

                3. When kids and their teams got serious, they raked the grounds and maybe even threw some grass seed around, after some serious weeding. The KEY was: kids were playing their game to their own group purposes and goals; and the LEADERS came from within that collective body of players. The kid leaders were the ones generally assigning positions, places in the batting order and scheduling games.

                4. At its roots, it wasn't tidy or promising at all. A raggedy bunch of kids, with no uniforms and hand-me-down equipment, learned to EXPECT bad hops as routine and some of the more gifted would be spotted by "outsiders" who wooed them away from "teams" OR were in a position to become sponsors.

                5. The sandlot was the SEED. A sponsor might be a school, a local business, saloon, delicatessen, VFW, Elks, Moose, K of C; or a structure might be provided by a YMCA or similar public service group ... but it was generally "civic pride" inspired and not sponsorship based on the ego of the sponsor or a win-at-any cost mindset that gradually pushed "the kids" into a functional role rather than as the centerpiece for the effort.

                6. Little League is a marvelous concept that has relly put an exciting charge into generation of young lives, with playing conditions and prideful public exposure no sandlotter could have dreamed of. However, endemic to the concept and its evolved glitz and glitter, was adult interference and mediation never there in sandlot days. I had to dwell on the negative, but the conflicting "everybody plays" vs "these can't play" in a win-win promotional atmosphere DID encourage "RINGERS" especilaly as the levels of competition got keener. I believe the concentration on BIG for pitchers is a biproduct of those elements. A whole geneation of kids grew up being overpowered by pitchers; and I suggest that Post WW II through the 1960s we had a hitting wasteland, a product of bad coaching, dismissal of small ball nuances and a collateral increase in "specialization."

                7. Finally, as if young athletes didn't already have enough interference to cope with, along came the aluminum bat. Since 1973, how many LL and NCAA players become convinced ob bat speed [they don't really possess with a wood bat] and a conviction tat contact is secondary to power generated by that bat speed?

                Yes, I confess, I don't find all the "progress" made since the sandlot days as a positive thing in all aspects.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Badge714 View Post
                  In one instance he hit over a hundred out.
                  Ruth did that in the very park(Wrigley Field Los Angeles)that the Home Run Derby was held at.There is a short Universal film on YouTube featuring the Bambino,called ''Fancy Curves,"that uses this stadium and was written by Lou Breslow,who would later be involved in the Home Run Derby decades later.Some of "The Pride of The Yankees" was filmed there as well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Badge714 View Post
                    I'm a Ruth partisan, so hardly unbiased, but I think he'd have done well in any home run derby, anytime, anywhere. He used to put on a show and would literally hit dozens of balls out of the park during BP. In one instance he hit over a hundred out. He would also participate in fungo contests, hitting one 447' according to Marshall Smelser in his The Life That Ruth Built. By any standard that's a tape measure shot, even hit off a pitch. That was a fungo, so he applied all the power. He invariably won these contests against all comers. He even won one after he had retired. Ruth was never afraid of performing in any setting against any competition. He'd have acquited himself quite well in a derby today, no doubt about it. In fact, it would be a perfect showcase for his power.
                    Interestingly enough, the Ruth batting demonstration which he gave in 1929 hitting 125 homers against 6 different pitchers, was at the same Wrigley Field in L.A. where the original Homerun Derby was shot.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by westsidegrounds View Post
                      of course not. it was a TV show. it was for fun. what did the winner get, anyhow? a Brand New Refrigerator? a carton of Old Golds?

                      Sheesh.
                      They got straight cash.
                      "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by westsidegrounds View Post
                        of course not. it was a TV show. it was for fun. what did the winner get, anyhow? a Brand New Refrigerator? a carton of Old Golds?

                        Sheesh.
                        There was prize money, and it was significant enough that Mantle, Aaron and Mays took part. Hank Aaron won $12,500 over 5 shows. Meanwhile, his 1959 salary was only $40,000.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Badge714 View Post
                          I'm a Ruth partisan, so hardly unbiased, but I think he'd have done well in any home run derby, anytime, anywhere. He used to put on a show and would literally hit dozens of balls out of the park during BP. In one instance he hit over a hundred out. He would also participate in fungo contests, hitting one 447' according to Marshall Smelser in his The Life That Ruth Built. By any standard that's a tape measure shot, even hit off a pitch. That was a fungo, so he applied all the power. He invariably won these contests against all comers. He even won one after he had retired. Ruth was never afraid of performing in any setting against any competition. He'd have acquited himself quite well in a derby today, no doubt about it. In fact, it would be a perfect showcase for his power.
                          I've seen the 447' fungo shot referenced before, and now I'm wondering if Babe used an actual fungo bat to hit that, or one of his regular bats.
                          If Babe used one of his 40ish oz bats to self-hit a ball that far, I'm triply impressed...it's easier to get distance on a ball that has no speed with a lighter bat (witness all the 26oz slowpitch bats these days). A Ruthian bat was actually pretty close to optimal purely for hitting a fastball for distance, but certainly not for fungoing.
                          "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                            One thing that was quite different was that called strikes were outs. In today's HR derbies, players can be more selective without any penalty.

                            Here's the video for anyone else that wants to watch it.
                            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xe6...vs-bob-c_sport
                            That makes a huge difference, players in the ASG HR derbies now will take several hittable pitches in a row waiting for one right in their wheelhouse.

                            Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                            There was prize money, and it was significant enough that Mantle, Aaron and Mays took part. Hank Aaron won $12,500 over 5 shows. Meanwhile, his 1959 salary was only $40,000.
                            I'll bet the IRS had agents watching to see who won and making notes to check against their tax returns!!
                            "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                              One thing that was quite different was that called strikes were outs. In today's HR derbies, players can be more selective without any penalty.

                              Here's the video for anyone else that wants to watch it.
                              http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xe6...vs-bob-c_sport
                              Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                              I think those old home run derbies were held in the offseason? If so then likely their timing may have been off.
                              In today's Home Run Derbies held at the All-Star Game, I don't believe they use regulation MLB baseballs. Those balls are juiced up hotter than Sammy Sosa.
                              They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

                              Comment

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