Rediscovering Baseball from the 80’s

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Baseball

So I was chatting with a buddy about some baseball stuff, specifically how public perception of Barry Bonds has changed over the years.

I described to him how I remember that Bonds was generally well-liked in the early 90’s. Around that time, it was like “Holy shit, with all these metrics coming out now, is Bonds really the best player in baseball? And has he been for several years now?” Sabergeeks were loving him more and more as analysis gained momentum. His prickly personality was maybe not so prickly yet and certainly wasn’t well-known.

Anyway, that kicked off a few quick searches to find some older baseball clips on YouTube. Here’s the first one I clicked on:

Holy crap. Can you watch that and not feel the magic? The players, the pace of the game, the camera angles, the charisma of the announcers, the music in the stadium, the fans. It all seemed so genuine. And here we have some of our HOFL names in this game as real people actually playing real baseball. In real life.

And then I found this:

Holy crap. TWIB. I forgot that I watched this thing religiously every weekend. This was before 24/7 ESPN, extended highlight segments covering every game in the country, even before regular coverage in print. This was pretty much the only chance to see highlights and bloopers and news from around the league. And Mel Allen’s voice was just so damn soothing.

Again, it’s all so real, so genuine, so fun. Here we have the famous Pirates outfield of the late 80’s. Andy Van Slyke was a cool dude. Barry Bonds was skinny and smiling. Bobby Bonilla was a real slugger. The players looked and acted like regular human beings. They were personable and real. I had forgotten that baseball players had ever been like that. Now, major leaguers are bulging, disconnected superheroes who give shitty interviews where they say a lot of words but don’t actually say anything.

And yes, I feel a bit nostalgic seeing the old Expos clips.

And then another clip. Here’s Vince Coleman hitting his first career home run:

So fun. I also found one of the TV specials where professional athletes would compete against each other in various events. Here, Vince Coleman competes in a 100 meter dash:

To me, these skills competitions had sort of the same appeal as UFC, with people from multiple disciplines competing against each other to determine who really is the best. I loved watching these shows, but they disappeared as soon as big-money contracts started prohibiting players from competing in them.

I don’t know, maybe I just had a moment last night. Sometimes things connect for you in an unexpected and novel way, and you feel a little tingle inside. I did last night.

Get on YouTube and do some searches. A few years ago, I looked for stuff like this and didn’t find much. Now, YouTube is a treasure trove for truly magical baseball video clips from the 80’s.

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