Since I was a kid, I have liked the game of baseball. Our parents, Allen and Collene Spencer, figured that with five girls, they had enough for a makeshift game of baseball whenever we went camping, and we all usually liked to play. That was really my first experience with baseball and with sports of any kind, I guess. I was not destined to become some great player, nor did I have any big aspirations in that area, because my interests went a different direction as I grew up. Nevertheless, I still enjoy watching a good game of baseball, and my favorite team is the Colorado Rockies. I suppose my dad…a Yankees fan to the core…probably wondered what I saw in the Colorado Rockies. Still, that was and is my team, and the team of my husband, Bob Schulenberg too. To many baseball fans, I suppose I would not be considered a die hard fan, because I don’t watch every game the Rockies play, but I watch enough to know who I like.
The really die hard fans have their heroes I’m sure, and that makes sense. Every sport has the spectacular players that people follow no matter what team they move to. They are just that good. I suppose that is what originally made baseball fans or the heads of the MLB decide that baseball needed a place to recognize their great players. The idea of a Baseball Hall of Fame began gathering steam in 1935, when members of the Clark Foundation in Cooperstown sought to revive business and tourism after the Depression. The idea took hold, and as most people know, every year new and amazing players are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While the Clark Foundation told a “white lie” to get things started, by saying that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story was a phony, and they had a hard time living down the lie. The baseball officials were eager turn the idea into a reality. They backed it…so we have the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Of all those people who have entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s my guess that none were more exciting than the first ones. In fact, on January 29, 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson. In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939 which many people thought was the centennial of baseball, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted. Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history. Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game. Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion. Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history. And, Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers ever to have taken the mound. Today, there are 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires, and 28 executives and pioneers who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it hosts 350,000 visitors per year. It’s all about baseball.
Many years ago, radios were not as common, and could not be used outside the home, so when families would gather together for a dinner or dance, music by radio was not really an option. I think people probably learned to play instruments so they could entertain themselves and others. Music has been a part of my family’s heritage for a far back as I have been able to trace, but it has taken many different twists and turns. This picture is one of my Uncle Bill’s favorites. He calls it “The Musicians”, which is exactly what it is, but it was named with a little mix of respect and sentiment that said what a special thing Uncle Bill thought the little group was. My grandfather had taught each of his kids to play the violin, so they knew what it took to play music. It took a lot of practice and if you were going to play at dances and such, you had to pack all of your equipment and go to where the dance was and play, often late, then pack up and go home…all in a covered wagon way back then.
Nevertheless, even with all of the work and such, musicians who really loved what they did, made the sacrifice, and the rest of the people were glad, because a good band can be hard to find. Barn dances, square dances, and other such functions would not be the same without the musicians who made them possible. Those barn dances were the thing that the people looked forward to all week, or sometimes all month. It was like out going to a show these days. If you didn’t get to go, and it was planned, you were really bummed out.
I remember taking square dancing in school, and how much we hated that, but to those people, it was the latest thing. When you think about it, square dancing probably was the start of the line dancing of today, just like the music was the beginning of some of the music of today…at least the country music. It’s funny how much music has changed over the years, and yet really the musicians have not changed all that much…other than in looks. They still devote a lot of time to practice and work really hard to perfect their art. Whether it is country, contemporary, or even rock, being a good musician takes a lot of dedication in order to become great.