Dodgers Scandals and Recoveries Past

Before steroids (illegal) and micro surgery (legal), there were baseball injuries and recoveries. Manager Chuck Dressen would shuffle to the mound to change a pitcher, Johnny Podres never raced to and from the mound, and infielder Don Zimmer was never a gazelle (even before his life threatening beaning),

But boy you should not been unlucky enough to get between any of the trio and the first available taxi to the racetrack after the game was over. (Showers often depended on number of minutes left until the start of the next race).

Now Eldon Roe, aka Preacher, had a terrible disease. He could not keep moisture on the fingers of his pitching hand without having to go to his mouth (or elsewhere) for moisture.

With this help, he could pitch just dandy. Of course, spitballers have been at times legal, at other times illegal, and sometimes (grandfathered in spitters were okay but new throwers not) both. Old Preach would have disdained todays juices out of hand -- or mouth. Just some plain 'ole, no prescription needed Vaseline or emory bark would do just fine.

Carl Erskine, Oisk to those that knew him in Brooklyn, threw so many dandy curves that he developed a bad, bad arthritic elbow. He pitched in terrible pain. He eschewed (a nice word for did without) illegal remedies, preferring to return to Anderson, Indiana, banking, and the care of his challenged son Jimmy. 

With today's assistances of various kinds, Carl Erskine might have still been pitching.

Then there was Sandy Koufax himself. In the big leagues at 20, it took him half a dozen years to find the plate, and then those marvelous five years when he had the best half decade of anybody in the history of the game, and then an arthritic elbow.

Sandy said at the time he'd rather quit (as an athlete) while he was ahead rather than be a cripple for life. We'd like to think he'd have made the same choice even if Barry Bond's full array of remedies been available.

The two biggest substances of abuse in baseball have been the old reliables - booze and tobacco.

We don't have to go too far back to remember seeing cigarette smokers in uniform. Think Earl Weaver. Think Earl Weaver when he had to go to Don Stanhouse. Think of Billy Martin. And dozens of others. More players than not could and would sneak between innings or at bats into the runway just behind the dugout.

Nobody kept track but an interesting statistic might have been how many games former Dodger and Hall of Famer Hack Wilson played drunk, how many hung over and how many sober. Sober and healthy, Wilson might have hit 1,000 home runs.

Mickey Mantle joked he often saw three baseballs coming into his vision out of a pitchers hand. How did he hit, he was asked. It was easy, he it said to have replied, I hit the one in the middle.

Those were the days when a pitcher was said to have "throwed out his arm". That was of course before Dr. Robert Kerlan and Dr. Frank Jobe and "Tommy John" surgery and then microsurgery.

Does all this stuff somehow seem more palatable to me since we were frankly of that era and going on 70 less and less every day - if not every hour - of this generation?

Of course, even in its infancy, baseball was never a bastion of rectitude. Baseball players were ranked just ahead or behind actors as people for our daughters to stay clear -- way clear -- of.  Teams have always sought ways to cheat.

Bending the altitude of foul lines (depending on whether your team fielded bunts good or bad and sometimes depending upon who was coming in for the next series). Watering baselines, stealing signals from the bleachers or scoreboard. Icing baseballs (so they wouldn't go far). Cutting or not cutting the grass. And on and on and on.

It's just the the current level of cheating seems so, well, declassee.

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