Comedian Sam Kinison held the story “sacred” in Rodney Dangerfield’s 1986 film “Back to School.” His character, Professor Turguson, asserted a particularly rabid point of view when it came to the Vietnam and Korean Wars, and while he was a bit off his rocker, I feel some empathy for him.
After all, I myself minored in history in college. And maybe I’m a little off my rocker, too, because I’ve always held baseball scores a bit sacred. Each is the official record of an entire game, and when you complete them, you are not allowed to make a mistake if you call yourself a true baseball addict.
The rules for filling in the little boxes have been passed down from generation to generation, like your great-great-grandfather’s first baseball glove. To the untrained eye, the notations look like chicken scratches, but to ballplayers, they look as good as a well-turned double play.
Each position in defense has a number. Over the years, filling out score books, I’ve sometimes been asked why the shortstop is No. 6 and the third baseman is No. 5. Well, that’s because all the corner positions must be odd, of course. Let’s go. Deal with that.
I tend to keep my old notebooks. I have notebooks from when I was in eighth grade and playing on my dad’s Allendorf slow-pitch softball team. I didn’t play much then. Dad sat me down for that first year.
I have notebooks from my high school days when I started my own fastpitch softball team and we used my dad’s old Allendorf amateur baseball jerseys. I found them in the attic. They smelled like mothballs but they still worked.
I’m talking about the scorecards today because last week I received a priority mail package from Rex Hein, who many years ago was athletic director at Worthington High School. He also played on the Worthington Cubs amateur team, and in a short letter he informed me that he was cleaning out his basement when he saw old Cubs notebooks from the 1980s filled out by his wife, Elda (with expertise, I must add).
Rex wanted me to have the books (and the season records that also came with them) – to keep, give to someone else, or even burn. “As you hear it,” he wrote.
First, of course, I wanted to look at them and remember.
You see, lineups are more than just names on paper. They are historical. They tell you who had the speed and know-how of a first hitter, who could get them all home from the cleanup spot, etc., etc.
Here’s a Cubs lineup from 1983, when the Cubs were a very talented hitting bunch: T. Suby, 3B; S. Rogers, SS; T. Jensen, LF; J. Berger, 1B; T. Gerber, 2B; R. Hein, DH; P. Suby, CF; G. Travis, RF; J. Gerber, C; Heinrichs, P.
Not easy among them. I remember the Suby brothers, Tom and Pete, as lifelong Cubbies and all-around good guys. I could go on and on. Glad to see them all again, even if only on paper.
The scoreboards also regurgitate the rosters of the teams the Cubs played in those years. Such as:
From Windom: Elness, Miller, M. Olson, J. Olson, Krahn, Haugen, Jackson, Moede, Einertson.
From Slayton: Konkol, J. Mansch, S. Mansch, Gerber, Monson, L. Prahm, Leimen, B. Prahm, Grieme.
From Lakefield: Welp, Apple, K. Rogers, G. Rogers, Froderman, Palmer, Krueger, Rossow, Wuerffel.
From Lake Heron: B. Mathias, B. Burns, Spenser, Bloom, DeWall, Pietz, K. Mathias, Wolff, Krueger.
And from Adrian: Bauer, M. Lutmer, Boomgarden, Henning, J. Lutmer, Eatherton, Scheidt, Heitkamp, Banck.
Well, there are more teams, of course. Just the names alone bring back memories to the elders. And each name can tell a great story of their exploits and the games as they were played decades ago.
These books will stay with me until someone comes to claim them. I think it should go to the Cubs archives. So don’t hesitate to call me and I’ll pass them on.