Markusen: Appreciating Oscar Gamble, a signpost for his era

From SABR member Bruce Markusen at The Hardball Times on February 12, 2018:

For many of us, the first thing that came to mind when we heard the news of Oscar Gamble’s death two weeks ago was the issue of The Hair. Yes, that Afro, the largest in the history of major league baseball according to my unofficial measurements, made Gamble a memorable figure from the 1970’s and ’80’s. Gamble’s hair is always a fun topic, but it obscures the far more important lessons and stories from the man’s career in baseball.

On so many fronts, Gamble’s life in baseball reflected much of what the game was like during his era. From the legendary figures who came into his life, to the way he dealt with racial and social issues in his day, Gamble became a signpost for baseball from the period that stretched from 1968 to 1985, his final year in the game.

Gamble’s career started at an intersection with one of baseball’s great personalities, Buck O’Neil. It was O’Neil, then little known in popular culture but respected as a scout for the Chicago Cubs, who first spotted Gamble on a remote field near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1968.

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Originally published: February 16, 2018. Last Updated: February 16, 2018.