The Gelding of the Piglets

Coming up on 55 years ago, we, my twin brother and I, turned 14 years old. It was November, the world series was over, the Dodgers had yet to win a World Series in their long Brooklyn history, and we were looking forward to the upcoming Saturday football game.

  He, my twin brother, was the starting quarterback and I was one of a pair of guards who's main function was  to alternate entering the game with the play the coach wanted to run on the next down.

That reverie was interrupted by the school principal who knocked on our classroom door and called for the brothers LeRoux. We were, we were  told,  to proceed forthwith to the office wherein one could get a "work permit". One of the companies our father kept the books for was a very large farm operation and 14 year olds could work there.

So off we went the very next spring to Ash Grove Farms. The farm had a handful of workers, who's wintertime tasks did not include, apparently, the periodic 'mucking out' of the cow barns, a task they were saving for the the bookkeepers twins. So our first introduction to farm work was  messy, laborious, smelly and not at all palatable. 

Much like the task currently in front of baseball.

But the cowbarn mucking was only the harbinger of odious and uncomfortable tasks ahead of us. The farm had over 2,000 piglets and a rite of spring was the gelding of  the male piglets - a function that would allow them to bulk up, become big pigs and thus render them more valuable.

Kind of like baseball players on steroids.

The farm supplied a veterinarian cutter. Our job was for one of us to grab the back legs, the other the front legs,and together hold the young piglet for a very unkind of cutting.

It seemed that all the piglets were housed together. When one was cut,the items being cut, along with blood, dropped on the floor and the piglet, to remark upon the honor of it all, would squeal. Now when one piglet squealed, the others would pick up the lament. Can you picture  2,000 piglets squealing?

That memory has never left me, a misplaced city boy. It has lasted until  this day.

Now what in the dickens has this to do with a baseball journal, you might ask?

Well, the  cut piglet cacophony immediately jumped from 54 years ago to the current day when we behold the cries of baseball to the current steroid scandal.

There is a lot of squealing going on. There is a lot of blood  on the floor. Indeed, there are a lot of fat pigs in the sport who have the thought that while they are getting fat, their fate is more and more to end up on somebody's dinner table.

The squealing  of the those pigs will not be confused with the Morman Tabernacle Choir - jut as the cacophonous sounds of our current crop of baseball players is not being viewed as a threat to any of the candidates for the Metropolitan Opera.

Just like the pigs going to he trough to be fed, there is a lot of pushing and shoving going on now in baseball, a not very quiet holiday scenario to be sure.

Is there a gelding upcoming for baseball? Hmmn, a thought to consider.

Now those piglets of 54 years ago had no Donald Fehr to represent them. They had nary an agent or lawyer. The only union thing about them was a unanimous cry of pain and cry for deliverance. For the piglets of that day, it was not to be.

For the piglets of today, only a prescient few have an inkling of what fate awaits them.

I had not for a long time ever have linked the pictures of that long ago spring with the clean, bright, airy world of baseball.

Suddenly, that has all changed in recent weeks. Our thoughts are of those not so fond memories of bleating, and smell, and noise and bloodletting. As we have mentioned in an earlier posting, we have of late seen  politicians of all stripes volunteering for the veterinarian function on baseball.

Baseball, as we have oft been reminded by the sage George Will is and should be food for the soul.

We are reminded of other spring days when we would sit in  the Vero Beach pressbox with the likes of Jim Murray and Bob Hunter, (and our own Tot Holmes) look down on the estimable Will sunning himself in the choice seats adjacent to home plate - a different and better time for the sport.

We wonder what these gentlemen would think of today's goings on. In those days, connecting the gelding of the piglets would not have been thought of as appropriate gist for the mill. Sad to say,the comparison now seems not only appropriate but very real.

And that is a very, very sad commentary.

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