Friday, May 11, 2012

the last book I ever read (Seasons in Hell, excerpt three)

from Mike Shropshire's Seasons in Hell:

The word "fan" apparently is derived from another word, "fanatic," and that can be aptly applied in Baltimore. Certain fans who frequent certain parks in certain cities bring a distinctive personality to the game. The American League champions of my "fan personality profile" was a dead heat--Baltimore and Boston. In these cities baseball was regarded as theatre. Fenway Park provided better seats, but the Oriole fans of the early seventies were getting to see what most critics would agree were better plays.

It should be remembered that Babe Ruth grew up as a pitcher in a Catholic reform school in Baltimore and didn't become a full-time slugger until he moved to New York, via Boston. The Baltimore baseball ethic historically has been based around pitching and defense and the Rangers would see those concepts exemplified on a grand scale while they were getting their tails kicked in this three-game weekend series against the Orioles.

Paul Blair, the best centerfielder that the big leagues would see in a decade, was flanked by Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins--a trio of antelopes that could not only flag down anything hit between the foul lines but was also particularly artful at snatching away homerun balls two or three feet over the fence.

With Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson, the left side of the Baltimore infield was airtight, and Bobby Grich and Boog Powell were formidable at second and first, respectively. The Orioles did not have a sold defensive catcher. No. They had three: Earl Williams, Andy Etchebarren and Elrod Hendricks. Surveying the Orioles' lineup, it was beyond debate that the Rangers did not have a single player who could start for Baltimore.

The three starting pitchers that the Rangers would face in this series were Mike Cuellar, a future underwear model named Jim Palmer, and finally, lefthander Dave McNally, who, at that point, had won fifteen consecutive starts against the Texas-Washington franchise. Defense and pitching. Even the Baltimore PA announcer, Rex Barney, had been a star relief pitcher at Ebbets Field.

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