This weekend we lost Hall of Famers Earl Weaver and Stan Musial. Many many of us will remember what Stan the Man meant to the Cardinals of the 50's and how Weaver guided the Orioles through those amazing early 70's seasons. And they deserve all the kudos and stories they will get over the next few days.
But last week we lost another player from the 60's, pitcher Fred Talbot. Many of you are thing Who? Those that read Jim Bouton's diary of the 1969 season "Ball Four" know exactly who Fred Talbot was. A journeyman pitcher that became a central character in the classic book.
Talbot went 38-56 over 8 seasons and played for 5 Major League teams from 1963-1970, but It is that one season, 1969, when the Yankees traded him to the expansion Seattle Pilots, that Fred will be most remembered for. He became a caricature of old school baseball, the grizzled veteran with the crew cut, that signed the contract the team sent him and did his best to be what baseball wanted him to be.
It was the late 60's an the world was changing. Talbot's conservative approach clashed with those of liberal Jim Bouton. Talbot would mock the long haired outfielder Steve Hovely and would harass the unconventional Jim Bouton. It was the same battle going on all over America but these guys played baseball. No one had ever gone inside the locker roomm before and when Bouton took us there, Fred Talbot played a central role
Until "Ball Four". fans saw a baseball team as 25 guys that all got along and played for the same goal, winning the World Series."Ball Four" showed us that baseball was just like any another job with personalities that clashed. It showed us the crude humor, the practical jokes, the use of greenies, an the philosophical differences of those that played the game. It showed us that baseball players were just like anybody else with fears about the future and opinions about the present. It
Talbot and Bouton epitomized those differences.
Fred Talbot never received fame from throwing a baseball but is immortalized in the book. RIP Fred Talbot
Those that have enjoyed "Ball Four" probably want to say what Pilot Manager Joe Schultz would:
"Aw SH _ _ _ F _ _ _'