Headline from 1947: 'Pitchers are sissies now'
Back in 1947, Hall of Famer Kid Nichols declared the contemporary pitcher to be weak and stuff. Sound familiar?
Consider this apropos of nothing in particular, but it recently came to the author's attention that way back yonder in 1947 Hall of Famer Kid Nichols dictated an article for Baseball Digest that bore the following world-championship headline:
Sissies, is what they are. All of them.
To our eternal regret, the full text is no longer available online, but gist of it is that in the mewling 1940s pitchers were routinely praised for winning a mere 20 games, wherein Nichols's day (i.e., the late 19th century) winning 20 wasn't much of a distinction. After all, Nichols tallied 30 or more wins in a season on seven different occasions.
Here's another very specific complaint of his, courtesy of Jonathan Chait:
Pitching wasn’t the only job pitchers had in the Nineties. The day after we had pitched a game it was our duty to stand at the gate, and afterwards to count the tickets. I remember counting 30,000 tickets one day at the Polo Grounds in New York.
Kid Nichols knows it was 30,000 because Kid Nichols damn well counted to 30,000. Uphill both ways. In a snowstorm.
He goes on to ridicule the inherent unmanliness of having surgery and then lament that it's all about the money these days -- these days, of course, being the 1940s. Hard to blame him, what with elfin wimps like Bob Feller, Warren Spahn and Dutch Leonard bespoiling what had once been a man's game.
With his plaints, Mr. Nichols, of course, overlooks the fact that the game had undergone drastic changes since his day. Then again, nothing in baseball is so timeless as an old-timer's thinking that the current generation of ballplayers is unworthy of his sanction.
You see, one day 75-year-old Stephen Strasburg will survey, with mounting contempt, the chicken-hearted likes of the modern pitcher, and if someone asks -- or even if someone doesn't -- he'll say exactly what he thinks. Just like Kid Nichols did.
(Wink of CBS eye: @baseballcrank)