is the oldest player is one of the oldest players in minor league baseball.* Affiliated minor league baseball anyway. Jose Canseco stunts and never-say-die stories like Oil Can Boyd who knock around the independent leagues are their own, often wonderful thing. But Tracy is a company man, still toiling for the Reno Aces in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. Other than a half-season’s look for the Expos back in 2000, he’s had nothing but cups of coffee. He’s my age, and I’m ancient, but he’s still playing ball.
Ryan O’Hanlon has his story today over at The Good Men Project. And Tracy sounds like a good man. Like Crash Davis wanting no mention of his minor league home record in the Sporting News, the Oldest Player in the Minors is not normally the sort who would want attention drawn to the fact that he hadn’t made it. And as O’Hanlon notes, other minor league old timers he wanted to interview declined.
But not Tracy. He’s realistic about his place in the world and seems to be content with it. And seeing someone doing something he loves, content with it no matter how most of us tend to measure success in that world, is a pretty cool thing.
Good stuff. Check it out.
*My bad. According to the article — and as pointed out by several readers — Tracy is merely one of the oldest men. I shall read more good next time.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.