MLB does the right thing
Remembering Gehrig for a good cause
Good morning, all! It’s Frrrriiiiddddaaayyyyy!
Kudos to MLB for announcing on Thursday that starting this season, June 2 will now be known as “Lou Gehrig Day.” The league-wide event will salute Gehrig and raise money for amyotrophic lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the illness which cost the Yankee Hall of Fame first baseman his life and for which there is still no cure.
“While ALS has been closely identified with our game since Lou’s legendary career, the pressing need to find a cure remains. We look forward to all the individuals and families in baseball and beyond, who have been affected by ALS and hope Lou Gehrig Day advances efforts to defeat this disease.”
-Commissioner Rob Manfred
Ten years ago ALS claimed the life of my Uncle Will, a former professional baseball player. Colorado Rockies OF Sam Hilliard, whose dad suffers from ALS, is also touched by the illness. Our paths crossed, when he played for the Hartford Yard Goats. Hilliard is not only a promising talent but a great person, with great parents. I had the chance to meet his mother several seasons ago. Earlier this year, venerable broadcaster Vin Scully lost his wife, Sandy, to ALS.
The commissioner is right on when he states, if this day draws more attention to the illness, it is a positive step.
Not to belabor the point, but to pick up on a topic which led my last newsletter, a new report shows customers are ending their cable-tv subscriptions at such a rate that the subscriber numbers are the lowest they have been since the mid-1990s. What makes the story more fascinating is there is no concurrent transfer to streaming services, such as You Tube, Sling, etc. Yes, some people are saying “so long” to cable and taking on You Tube or Sling subscriptions, but not enough to off set the massive number of subscribers (6 million) who ended their cable-tv or satellite subscriptions.
The numbers do not bode well for sports, reliant on cable and satellite for revenue. Stay tuned! While you still can.
They worked on conditioning back then too
Much is being made of how much conditioning is stressed in baseball’s spring training, preseason football or pick your sport. Teams have staff now solely devoted to a player’s workout routine, diet, etc. You can make a strong case the genesis of such an approach occurred 56 years ago.
In delving through the digital archives of the New York Times I stumbled across a couple of interesting stories about the New York Yankees and Mets, as their spring training camps were launched.
The Yankees (who had won five straight AL pennants but jettisoned their manager Yogi Berra for Johnny Keane, who had managed the Cardinals to a World Series victory over the Yanks in 1964) were taking a more disciplined approach, bringing in former New York Giants great Andy Robustelli to lead the players each day “into the calisthenics program.”
“I can’t do all of those exercises, because some of them involve twisting, and the bone chips make my knees sore if I do that. But Andy (Robustelli) is going to give me a special set to stretch my muscles without twisting and I’ll do those.”
Not to be outdone by their crosstown rivals, the Mets brought in the great Olympian Jesse Owens to lead their conditioning program.
“What I want to do is make the players realize that conditioning is most important in their careers.”
The four-time gold medal winner at the 1936 Olympic Games, had never met manager Casey Stengel, until that 1965 spring training camp. “That was quite an experience,” he said. I’ll bet it was.
Ali-Frazier I and Sinatra was there
Over the next few days look for several stories about the 50th anniversary of the first heavyweight fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The bout occurred on Mar. 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. I still remember the build up to the fight. It would be unimaginable today, but 50 years ago boxing was still a big deal.
At ringside, taking photographs for Life Magazine was none other than Frank Sinatra. And some of those photos taken by “The Chairman of the Board” fetched a pretty good price. Who could guess that 3 1/2 years later, on the same spot, Sinatra would be making his own comeback, with his famous Madison Square Garden concert? No wonder he came to love singing “New York, New York.”
Well, that is it for this week. Have a tremendous weekend, and thank you for your support.