posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 02:24 AM
Dear Gibbs and Kwy,
I realize the NBA has never had anything like baseball's ridiculous "reserve clause," but I would like to throw in the following famous (among
baseball historians) story to offer a little perspective here:
Mickey Cochrane is widely regarded as one of the five greatest catchers in MLB history. If you include Josh Gibson in the mix, he almost certainly is
#1 and somebody has to be dropped. Also, there is a lot of controversy about how high Fisk should rate, simply on the basis of his longevity. For
those who care, I acknowledge Gibson as the greatest, but limit it to MLB players and rate the catchers like this:
(4) Cochrane; and
(5) In the ultimate proof that a great hitter is simply more important than a great fielder, Mike Piazza.
And NO historian would tell you it's absurd to rate Cochrane that high (or a notch higher), even if he/she puts him at #6 or whatever. That's how
good he was. He was one of the most fleet-footed catchers who ever lived, batted .320 for his career, and, in the really big stat, had an awesome
career on-base percentage of .419, just two points below that of a far greater and more famous Mickey who patrolled the most famous center
field in MLB history.
Cochrane was also a winner. Although Lefty Grove is (rightly, in my view) perceived as the main reason Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's took three
straight pennants from the Ruth/Gehrig/etc. Yankees in 1929-1931, Cochrane helped a LOT (as did Simmons and Double X). Then, when Mack traded
Cochrane to Detroit for $100,000 (and a player who couldn't carry his jock) after 1933, Detroit came within a game of winning its first W.S. in 1934,
then DID win it in 1935. Gives you an idea just how great this guy was, huh?
Early in the 1937 season, after an injury-shortened 1936 season, Cochrane was hit in the head with a pitch. It fractured his skull, put him in a coma
and left him near death for days. When he came out of it, he naturally wanted to play again. You don't get to be THAT great unless you were born
with Babe Ruth's talent (which Cochrane for sure wasn't) or you're a maniacally intense competitor (which he, like a lot of modern athletes we all
This was one time the reserve clause was a good thing. Detroit's owners, apparently actually being decent people and not caring about the bottom line
of wins and losses, told Cochrane that they didn't care THAT much about winning. Having been told by a doctor that another pitch to the head, even if
far less severe, would KILL Cochrane, they told him he was now retired, though welcome to stay on as manager. He hated it, but he had to accept
GIBBS, I have read your quote. It is obvious the doctors told this guy he is taking a real risk, or he would not have said what he did. They've
probably had him sign a waiver of liability where they're concerned. And I would imagine his life insurance company has done the same with regard to
any further heart attacks suffered while playing or practicing basketball, right?
But how long is this guy signed for? Couldn't the team just put the guy on I.R. for the next 3 or 4 years? You know, pay him and keep him somewhere
where his competitiveness and bad judgment (like Cochrane's) won't get him killed? The baseball owners of the 1930's were mostly slavedrivers, and if
THEY cared enough to do that with a great player whom they obviously needed so badly in their lineup, can't these guys do the same thing?
Baseball History Nut