Baseball and Veteran's Day? How on earth, you might ask, can these two subjects be combined?
Well, during the 2006 baseball campaign, there was more and more attention paid to Barry Bonds as he hobbles toward Hank Aaron's all-time career home run record. As readers of this blog wil recall, I am no fan of Barry Bonds, and that, regardless of his home run total, he is never -- and will never -- rise to the stature of Babe Ruth.
Pondering statistics got me thinking a bit.
Once upon a time, players realized that there were things which were more important than individual statistics.
Ted Williams spent the 1943, 1944, and 1945 seasons in the military, serving his nation during the Second World War. Based on his averages in 1942 and 1946, this cost him about 111 homers and 543 hits. But that was not enough. Williams also served in the Korean War, sacrificing the best part of the 1952 and 1953 seasons as well. Based on his averages in 1951 and 1954, this cost him another 44 homers and another 261 hits. He could have easily ended his career with 670+ home runs and 3,400+ hits.
Joe DiMaggio spent the 1943, 1944, and 1945 seasons in the military, costing him (based on averages) 69 home runs and 498 hits. Furthermore, DiMaggio was not the player he had been when he returned from serving his country.
Many, many other Major-League ballplayers served as well. The above examples are merely a few of the more prominent players.
Compare this to the attitudes of Barry Bonds and others of his ilk in 21st century baseball. They are not even in the same league.
Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson,
Joltin' Joe has left and gone away . . .