June 12, 2011
You Can Blog It Up
Nothing Ever Changes
Among the more obscure items in my library is a two-volume collection of The Diary of Our Own Samuel Pepys by Franklin Pierce Adams, or FPA. Adams was a newspaper columnist and radio personality (primarily on Information Please). If he is remembered today, it is for being a member of the Algonquin Round Table and--here comes the baseball connection--as the author of the poem Baseball's Sad Lexicon, which begins, "These are the saddest of possible words, Tinker to Evers to Chance." As a subsection of his column, Adams ran the Diary, a parody of the journal of the actual Samuel Pepys. As with its 1600s antecedent, it detailed the travels of its author, though perhaps less interestingly. However, from time to time Adams found reason to comment upon baseball and ballplayers, as in this entry from March 2, 1927, just before the subject was about to embark on one of the great seasons:
This morning Mr. George Ruth come to town, and told the pressmen that he would not accept less than $100,000 a year, and I hope he gets it or more, as I think he attracts more money than that to the parks where he plays. But Lord! how weary it maketh me when petty persons compare this salary to the President's, or to their own, saying "How hard I work, and how little I earn!" But this man chooseth to be a writer or a truckman, and that one a ballplayer, and if so be he is fortunate enough to have the qualities that a great public will play to see displayed , who is anybody to complain of that? For all I would have to do, I tell myself, to get a larger salary than Babe Ruth's would be to be a greater ballplayer, and if I am not, I have no right to complain, nor do I, but say, "Huzzah for Mr. Ruth!" Heard this afternoon that he hath accepted $70,000 a year, and that will make many persons happy, forasmuch as they will jusify their own incompetence by saying he is losing $30,000 a year, which is more than most of us have to lose.
It seems to me that you could have had this same discussion during the last half-dozen of baseball labor negotations, and we'll probably hear it again during the next one as well.