Graham Womack of Baseball Past and Present conducted an email interview with venerable baseball writer and author Robert Creamer.
Creamer, who began following baseball as a kid in 1931 and began covering it for Sports Illustrated in 1954, provided a zillion fascinating answers all around, including his takes on steroids (you bet your bippy Babe Ruth would have taken them), the best player he ever covered (which leads to an extended discussion of Willie Mays) and the Baseball Writers Association of America (“it simply does not mean much anymore”).
I found his most interesting answer to be about baseball’s status as national pastime. Whenever someone talks about that, they refer to fandom. At least I do. But Creamer explains it differently:
It’s our spectator sport and I think possibly still our biggest spectator sport, and we love to read about it and talk about it and watch it on TV but nobody PLAYS baseball anymore. Softball, yes,but today everybody plays basketball or touch football whereas a century ago EVERYBODY played baseball. If you can find an old newspaper file from around 1912, ten years before I was born, look at the coverage of games on Saturdays and particularly Sundays – dozens of games, club teams, neighborhood teams, small town teams, political clubs, social clubs. It’s astonishing.
Can you imagine if that was the case? Club teams and work teams and everything else? Not playing beer league softball, but genuine baseball. Now we have some random over-30 leagues but that’s not exactly extensive.
Anyway, cool interview. Creamer sounds neat. He’s living evidence that one does not need to close one’s mind and become cranky as one gets older.