Past Hardly One of Pristine Purity
might wonder, reading the sports pages, how today’s
chroniclers of the games people are paid big money to
play are able to type their words while simultaneously
wringing their hands.
The prevailing view seems to be that steroid use may have ruined baseball forever,
and that never again will fans be able to have any faith in the honesty of the
sport and those involved in it.
And I say baloney, for want of a stronger word that be unfit for publication
in the public prints. Baseball’s past is hardly one of pristine purity,
and the game has suffered through and survived events far worse than the doping
A century ago, when professional baseball was still less than a half-century
old, getting around the rules was an accepted part of the game. In a day when
contests were presided over by a single umpire, it was not uncommon for base
runners, taking advantage of the arbiter’s divided attention, to run from
first to third by a shortened route, by-passing second base undetected. A runner
on third, seeking to score after the catch by an outfielder, would find himself
stopped in his tracks, the third baseman’s finger being hooked in his belt
More than one catcher was noted for his dexterity in tipping the bat of a player
swinging at a pitched ball. And certainly it must have been intimidating for
opposing infielders to watch Ty Cobb – arguably the greatest player ever – sitting
in his dugout, filing his spikes to razor sharpness, those spikes he’d
use to slash opponents when he slid into a base. Honest playing was not always
a part of baseball’s legacy. For instance, there was “Prince Hal” Chase,
who might better have been known as “Corkscrew Hal,” so crooked was
he at altering the course of games.
And don’t forget the biggest scandal of all, the throwing of the 1919 World
Series by the infamous Chicago “Black Sox,” whose guilty eight players
included a onetime Sacramento Senator, one “Chick” Gandil. So this
too shall pass, this steroid scandal, as all others in the past have, but it’s
well to remember one thing: Among the most cherished traditions of America’s
pastime is the long established, perfectly legal stolen base.
• • •
is no deterrent when it comes to creativity, in proof of
which I offer Patria Pettingell, who writes, “My octogenarian
heart beat wildly when I received word last month that
my first novel, “Island Fury,” published by Publish
America, would be released.”
A member of the California Writers Club, at one of whose chapter meetings we
met, Patria is a native of Puerto Rico, which provides the setting for her novel.
She has lived in the Sacramento area for the past half-century.
For details regarding her book’s availability, she can be reached at 486-3810.
• • •
years back, my wife returned from a foray to an antique shop
in Jackson with a piano lamp, one with a glass-paneled shade,
which really was quite nice.
When I inquired as to the price, I blanched at her answer.
I thought she said, “$1910.” I calmed down when she repeated, with
emphasis, “1910 - the year it was made.” Fair enough, that, and it
served us well and still does. Now, however, it’s a bedside reading
lamp. The piano now resides with our daughter in Laramie, Wyoming.
Unfortunately, in moving, the glass was shattered, and we cast around quite
futilely until a woman in an antique store directed us to a plumbing firm “on
So we started west on Elvas from H Street and didn’t see anything resembling
a glass-dealing plumber until we came to the other end, just before the old
American Can plant, and turned into little Janett Street to make a U-turn.
And there it
was. Not that elusive plumber, but Artisan Glass Works, where we quickly
found just the glass Joan wanted and where they had it cut and installed
too - overnight.
Isn’t that what’s meant by serendipity?
• • •
months back I began to list what a writer told me the
rules of life really are. I got sidetracked after just three,
I forget, I’ll now give
you the rest. Attention, please:
The five most essential words for a healthy and vital relationship are, “I
apologize,” and, “You’re right.” Everyone seems
normal until you get to know them.
When you make a mistake, make amends immediately because it’s much easier
to eat crow while it’s still warm.
The only really good advice your mother ever gave you was, “Go!
You might meet somebody.”
If he/she says you’re too good for him/her, believe him/her.
Learn to pick your battles. Ask yourself, will this matter one year from now?
One month? One week? One day?
If you wake up breathing, congratulations. You have another chance. Living
well is the best revenge. Being miserable because of a bad or former
just might mean the other person was right about you. Work is good,
not that important ...
End of sermon, with thanks to the 711 Club. Likewise, end of column. Have a good
retiring from a long and respected career with The Sacramento
Bee, Stan Gilliam found that he just couldn't stop writing. So
his "Stan's Sacramento" column to the Spectrum, where
it has been a favorite of readers for 15 years ... and counting.
• • •
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