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Ron Cruger
The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
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The Babe and Ty Cobb discuss baseball
The do-nothing candidates
          The angel in charge of former baseball players walked by their table in the Heavenly Sports Lounge, recognized the two men sitting at the table and tipped his halo at the pair as they sipped their beers.
          Angel Clifford stopped to offer greetings to the two.
          “Hiya Babe, how’s it going Ty?”
          Babe replied first, “Hey, man, how ya doing?” Ty Cobb then said, “Take care, man, take care.”
          Angel Clifford continued his walk past the pair. He was headed for a table near the entrance to the Lounge where Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby and Hank Greenberg were having lunch.
          At another table Bob Feller and Joe DiMaggio were involved in a serious discussion about the quality of the current pitchers in the major leagues.
          Babe Ruth turned away from Ty Cobb to wave hello to old team mate Waite Hoyt and former manager Miller Huggins who had just entered the Lounge.
          Ruth then turned to Ty Cobb and said, “Look at this place, Ty, what a joint, filled with the greatest ball players of all time and here we are; you and me, sitting here, having a beer together. Didja ever think it could be like this?”
          “Babe, I never thought that you and I would even be sitting at the same table. You know how I was. I hated anyone who played against me. But now that I’ve gotten to know you, you’re not a bad guy.”
          “Listen you, bastard, I always thought you were the meanest, rottenest guy in the league. I wanted to hit a ball down your throat to shut you up.”
          The two greats chuckled at the way things used to be.
          Then Babe Ruth got serious and said, “You know, Ty, I’ve been watching some of the current baseball games over on the other side of the Lounge. You know, on one of those giant television screens they have nowadays. Those guys playing the game today are so friggin’ big compared to the players in our day.”
          “I agree with ya, Babe. Most of our teammates were, like, five foot six, seven or eight. You were one of the giants, you were like six foot, three, weren’t you?”
          “Yeah. But these guys today have personal trainers, they lift weights and eat healthy foods. You now how I trained. I would eat three hot dogs and a couple of beers before a game. I wonder how many homers I would hit today if I had a personal trainer and didn’t carry around that big belly I had.”
          Ty Cobb, the great hitter and feared base runner, said, “I’ve also watched those games on that television. If I could be young again and play against these guys I would hit over .400 every year, steal a hundred bases.”
          Just then a group of ball players walked by their table. The Babe and Ty Cobb waved as Arky Vaughan, Grover Alexander, Roberto Clemente and Mickey Mantle sauntered by, heading for their own table.
          The Babe commented, “Great bunch of guys, eh, Ty. Can you imagine how much we’d all be making if we were playing now. Hell, I set a record in 1927 when I made $80,000 for the year. That was more than the President of the United States made.”
          “Babe, if we were playing now, we’d be pulling down a hundred million a year. Look at that Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. He makes $26,000,000 a year and he barely hits his weight.”
          Y’know, Babe, these players today, even the mediocre ones, make three, four million a year. Why, when we played we were lucky, damn lucky, to make $10,000. Most of us had other jobs in the off-season, just to support us and our families. The owners made all the money.”
          Babe Ruth added, “In 1921 I hit .378, had 69 home runs, had 171 RBIs, I had 16 triples and even stole 17 bases. My buddy, Lou Gehrig, in 1927 hit .373, had 52 doubles, 18 triples, 47 home runs and 175 RBIs. If Lou did that today there isn’t a club, other than the Yankees that could pay him what he’d be worth.”
          Cobb replied, “One year, I think it was 1911, I hit .420, I had 248 hits, 147 doubles, 24 triples, 8 home runs and 127 RBIs. To top it off, I had 83 stolen bases. I still had to get a job in the off-season to make ends meet. Now they have guys like that Alex Rodrigues who, this year hit .276, had 16 homers, only 62 RBIs and could only play in 99 games for the Yankees.” And the guy makes $26,000,000.”
          Three tables away, Ruth spotted Roy Campanella, Left Gomez, Satchel Paige and Yogi Berra and waved his greetings.
          The “Big Train,” Walter Johnson, Al Simmons, Tris Speaker and Honus Wagner came by as a group and shook hands with the Babe and Cobb, with Johnson, patting Ruth on his meaty left shoulder, saying, “I’ll see you later at the bar, Babe.”
          Cobb, not one to mince words, said, “I’ll be damned if I can even recognize the game today. Fancy new stadiums serving things like raw fish, Mexican food and prime rib. The players wear helmets, they got straps on their wrists, elbow pads, some wear glasses. They don’t play if they have a headache and the managers coddle them like movie stars. And have you seen what it costs to get to see a game. Seats can cost a couple of hundred dollars for one game. In our day you could see all our games for a year for that.”
          “I agree, Ty, the game has changed, but it still boils down to some guy on the mound throwing that ball over the plate and guys like us standing there with a round bat trying to hit a round ball. Home runs, stolen bases, great catches – that’s still what the game is all about, isn’t it?”
          Ty Cobb thought about it for a moment, then said, “I guess you’re right Babe, it’s still one team battling another.”
          Down the aisle, walking towards Cobb and Ruth came Jackie Robinson. Lloyd Waner nudged his brother Paul. “Look, it’s Jackie Robinson.” Some of the ex-greats applauded when they saw Robinson. Robinson smiled, waved and continued walking. Even the great Babe and Ty Cobb knew that Robinson was special. A truly great one.
          Babe Ruth looked at Ty Cobb and said, “You know, Ty, when they gave me that day in Yankee Stadium, when I was done playing, I said something that I still believe.”
          “What’s that, Babe?”
          I said, “It’s the only real game I think, in the world – baseball!”
          Cobb agreed with the Babe.
          The two rose from their chairs and headed for the other corner of the Heavenly Lounge where the television sets were replaying a game from last year’s World Series.
          Ruth and Cobb found a table and sat down, eyes glued to the game on the screen.
          Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb never strayed far from the game they love.