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A Different Era

This article is more than 10 years old.

In a game against the Braves at County Stadium in Milwaukee on April 30th, 1961, Willie Mays hit four homeruns.

This did not surprise me. At thirteen, I was well aware that Willie Mays was the greatest baseball player of all time, and that he would remain so. For the record, nothing since has shaken that conviction.
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On that April day forty eight years ago the New York World Telegram and Sun, the paper my father read on the train each evening as he returned home from work and handed to me as he came through our front door, covered Willie’s achievement as if Willie and the Giants were still playing in New York. The homers were celebrated in bold type at the top of the sports page, never mind that the Giants had moved to San Francisco before the 1958 season began.
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Now, of course, young fans of any ballplayer who bopped four homeruns in a game would learn of the feat instantly via whatever technology they preferred: a favorite website, the excited tweet of some lucky fellow-fan present for the event, perhaps a handheld device programmed to ring, vibrate, or shoot off fireworks whenever something out of the ordinary occurred at any ballpark anywhere.
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But in 1961, when the doings of the team that I continued to follow faithfully despite their relocation were reported in full each day by a daily paper in the city the Giants had forsaken, I was grateful. How else, when I was away in Maine at summer camp in 1960, would I have learned that the Giants had brought up a right handed pitcher with a magnificently if absurdly flamboyant windup named Juan Marichal? Some of the baseball writers thought he might do the ballclub some good. I sat on my bunk during rest period and read the clippings my parents had sent me, and I hoped those writers would be proven right.
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As it turned out, they would be, but I suppose that is beside the point…which is that for those of us of a certain age, the baseball writing of newspaper reporters and columnists attached to a team, even if only by the team’s past and the echoes in its empty stadium was significant.
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That’s not to say those times were better, and certainly the twelve and thirteen year old baseball fans of today are more quickly and more thoroughly informed than I was then, but in this time of dwindling newspapers, those clips about two of the Giants of my childhood seemed worth a mention.

This program aired on July 3, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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