Thorn: On the love of baseball lore

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on June 6, 2018:

When the Pope came to the United States, a small boy was impressed by the abundant pageantry of the papal motorcade. He stared at the big cars, the robes, the cheering throng lining the sidewalks for miles. After the pontiff had passed, the boy asked his mother, “How’d he get to be Pope?”

“The cardinals selected him,” replied the mother.

The boy pondered a moment, then mused, “You think the Giants would do something like that for Willie Mays?”

Classic baseball tales come in several flavors. One variety is passed down through generations, not only in the telling from parent to child, but in character, from Walter Johnson to Nolan Ryan, Babe Herman to Marv Throneberry.

The measure of that story may be the number of characters it is (or could be) told about. Other tales revolve around the historic events of the game. A third type grows out of the outstanding personalities in the game. Certain unique figures stand out, but the folklore mirrors the transcendental nature of the game itself. If that prospect can’t be the next Hank Aaron or Ty Cobb, maybe he can be the next Mickey Rivers.

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Originally published: June 6, 2018. Last Updated: June 6, 2018.