THOUGHTS

SHORT, THOUGHT PROVOKING ARTICLES PUBLISHED BI-MONTHLY.

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

Editor's note:

Dear Brethren,

As many of you know, I spend a great deal of time working with young men who have been addicts or alcoholics. The dangers of social drinking is not speculative for me! It has been the bane and destruction of men, women, and families for years. The disease is made so much more prevalent and spreads so much faster (like a virus); due to the lax attitude in society and the common social pressures pressed upon so many given to the disease.

Here is an article, written by: Lindy McDaniel. He was a professional baseball player, and is a Gospel preacher. He uses his experiences to often draw attention to spiritual and moral issues. Here is one that draws attention to the dangers of social drinking in a light hearted set of observations. David

Lindy McDaniel's career includes approximately 3,500 major league games, more than 300 teammates, and eight different managers in five organizations.  It covered a span of thirteen and one-half seasons in the National League and seven and one-half in the American League for a toal of 21 years in the big leagues.
Play Ball!

Folks, I am not sure if you have already received this, but the attachment is a recent e-mail that I sent to my children which I deem appropriate for the readers of "Pitching For The Master" since it ties in my baseball career with the controversial subject of social drinking in a light hearted kind of way.  Lindy


Some Baseball Wisdom About Drinking

O.K. kids, Loosen up.

I learned a lot in baseball about drinking.  For example, when I was playing for the Chicago Cubs in 1965, Lew Burdette, the famous spit ball pitcher from Milwaukee, was traded to the Cubs. He was the starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves, along with the more famous Warren Spann. Anyway, this was late in Lew’s career, and he would tell us guys in the bullpen how things were when he and Spann played together. They were both known as heavy drinkers, that is, they would drink at least 10 beers a day. But Lew said that they worked so hard running, etc. that the effects of the beer would just sweat right out of their bodies, and so it never affected their pitching. Lew said that he didn’t drink during the off season, because he wasn’t working hard enough to sweat it out. I am not sure that I believed all of that but that’s what he said.   Anyway, he told us that you never get to know a man until you get him drunk. That’s when the real person comes out. Well, I am not sure I buy that one either.  I’ve seen a lot of drunk guys and in their stupor they have made some of the most stupid and ridiculous statements I have ever heard. If that is the real, honest person, then I would much prefer that the real character remain hidden!  Lew also said, “Guys, I wouldn’t want to be like Lindy. When he gets up in the morning he feels as good as he is going to feel all day. But when I get up in the morning, I know that I will feel better as the day progresses.” Anyway, it was always enlightening to sit in the bullpen soaking in all that wisdom!    

Earlier with the St. Louis Cardinals, I roomed with Jim Brosnan, a relief pitcher acquired from the Cincinnati Reds who was busy writing books.  He took pride in being an atheist and never wanted to talk to a dumb, uninformed, Bible believing and flat earthish person like me. In one of his books, he did write that he spoke to me 15 minutes about religion, and that was enough to convince him that I was plain nuts. He believed in the old adage, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” Even though we were roommates, I never saw him much, as he would come in from an outing on the town about 3 or 4 am in the morning very drunk, and most of the time would find his bed.  Sometimes he would just fall by his bed and lie on the floor. The next morning, I would have to make sure not to disturb him, dress and sneak into the bathroom and gently close the door when leaving, and then stay out until he got up mid afternoon. Not a good match to be sure. I do not know if the Cardinals wanted me to influence him or if he was supposed to influence me. But whatever the reason, it didn’t work. What did I think?  I think maybe no one else wanted to room with him and they thought, “Oh Lindy won’t mind!” No I didn’t raise a stink, but I should have. Hey, I can also name some good roommates.  Come to think of it, none of them were drinkers. During the last 10 years of my career, I had the room all to myself. Nice.

As a rookie with the Cardinals, I was very popular with the players, for the owner furnished us with cases of beer. Since I didn’t drink, players became very friendly wanting me to give them my cases. Not wanting to offend anyone or perhaps lead them astray, I finally sent word that the Cardinals should not send me any more cases. Now I never said that drinking a beer was wrong. I was thinking more in terms of the power of example on young people. Well, in fact I spent a lot of time researching “Wine and the Bible” and came up with my own conclusions.  Of course, I knew that this kind of research would be very impressive to the ballplayers. HaHaHa. I have found that most beer companies will tell you how good and healthy drinking beer can be, and I have no doubt that it helps your social life. I have even had some of the more religious players tell me that drinking a few beers or wine is not harmful if you eat a meal with it. And it seemed like they handled it pretty well until they hit a slump or had a special reason to celebrate.  Then all logic seems to flie out the window. Somehow I was always seeing the bad side such as broken homes, out of control anger, alcoholism, infidelity, and the things that make headlines today but hidden from the public then. So I’m thinking, if you don’t need it, why start it? Besides, I think I blame my dad mostly for being a teetotaler.  He never did drink and none of his children drank. So I guess that works. Of course, we never had as much fun as other people and people could never truly get to know us, if you know what I mean. Only alcohol can reveal your real character, I’m told.

Even my brother Von and I were jumped on for not going to the bars and mixing with the players.  Bob Broeg, a famous sportswriter for the St. Louis Cardinals and a writer we deeply respected, sat with Von and me in a car in the parking lot of Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg in the spring of 1958 for over an hour, trying to convince us of this very thing.  (see how much I can pack into one sentence!) It was all in the spirit of team cohesion.  He said, “Even if you don’t actually drink, it is a good way to mix with the players.”   Broeg’s idea of an ideal team was “the Old Gas House Gang” of the 1920’s and 30’s. They were a real “rooten, tooten” wild bunch of players. We remained unconvinced. We said to him, “Look, that may seem innocent enough, but we have to think of our influence with the young people. And besides, if we are not drinking, we are not sure that the players would want us there.” It has been my experience over the years that most players want to do their own thing after the game, and they really do not want “party poopers” around.  Just saying.

During my first year with the Giants, we opened the season in St. Louis. Our players attended a banquet in St. Louis the night before opening day. During this banquet, our great owner of the Giants, Horace Stoneham, got up to make a speech. He was soused, that is, drunk as could be.  His slurred voice got stuck on “I have some good ballplayers and some bad ballplayers”, over and over like a needle stuck on a record, and he finally had to be escorted from the podium.  I was thinking to myself, “A real good start for me and the Giants!” He had a good drinking buddy in our manager, Herman Franks, and things didn’t go bad for me until close to the end of the season when he tried to pull a fast one on me by putting one of his drinking buddies in my place and we blew three games. We lost the pennant by 1 ½ games.  But I will not go into all of the gruesome details here. In 1964, Herman Franks replaced Alvin Dark, the only strong manager the Giants had during those years. Was Alvin fired because he didn’t drink with the owner? Many think that was a factor. Herman was brought in as a buffer between the owner and manager, and to deal with the unrest between the black and Latin players and the manager, and it wasn’t long until Herman had the job all to himself and Alvin was out.

Alvin was strong on discipline, but all managers after him were extremely weak and the superstars were allowed to run the club. Could this be the reason the Giants never won the pennant all of those years even though they were loaded (no pun intended) with “Hall of Fame” talent? Actually a few were loaded from time to time including some who became or were alcoholics. One of these, a great hitter, was a bright candle for a while, but was just a throw-a-way when he was no longer useful. Everyone knew he was on the hard stuff, but there was no intervention. After spending 2 ½ years there, my answer would be yes.  I have said absolutely enough. But, after all, they can’t fire me now, can they?   I was always a rule to keep private matters in the clubhouse. There was a sign that said something like, “What you do and say here stays here.” Well, another atheist, Jim Bouton, who wrote “ball four” told all about the drinking of the Yankees including Mickey Mantle, one of the largest gods, and you know what happened to him. He was barred from the Yankee clubhouse for years. As you know, I took Susie, when the Giants asked me to come to the 50th Anniversary of their moving to California in July of 2008. And every morning, I got up and ate breakfast with 4 other great players, all non-drinkers, which included Alvin Dark, Bob Bolen, Billy O’Dell, and the other I don’t remember.  We had a great time and shared some great stories. I have always said that Christians have more fun, but those on the other side of the equation don’t believe me.

As to my playing for the Giants in San Francisco, it was rather miserable without team leadership and cohesion, the weather was cold and the people drank a lot. That was especially the sports writers who were furnished all the liquor they wanted and always wrote very nice things about the ball club.  It was always about “Willie Mays & Company” and so it was.  No complicated signs, no hit-and-run, no stealing bases and no bunting, etc. Keep all the superstars happy. Just power baseball and power pitching.   Years later, my buddy Steve Hamilton of the Yankees was traded to the Giants, and he told me later, “Lindy, you didn’t tell me half of what was going on!” No, I didn’t. Although Steve was highly respected with the Yankees and served as our player representative as well as the league representative, he was treated as “a nobody” with the Giants. He retired not long after being traded. 

I did know a few good sportswriters who covered the Yankees, but most of them hit the bottle hard as well. I could tell you stories not decent to mention here.  Now these writers can be vicious indeed and were not controlled by the ballclub. It was usually a love/hate relationship between the owners/players and writers except for the Giants. I think that many of them were jealous of the players who often were arrogant celebrities, for most writers do not make much money. Poor souls, they spend their lives pecking on a typewriter and going to bars. Many end up being alcoholics. Oh, I keep using that word!  I must bite my tongue. I think that sportswriters were mostly journalists who never made it to the top and finally settled for being a sportswriter. Well, yes, I must admit, there were a few good journalist who were accomplished and notable writers. And some top well known authors did drink a lot. But I never did like the idea of having to go to the bar to get ink. That’s a code word for write-ups or publicity.

Speaking of the Yankees, we had a “Father Joe” who traveled with the ballclub and ran around with a lot of the players.  Some of his pals got into serious trouble with “wife swapping” and actually trading families, making headlines all over the country. I didn’t blame him for that, but he did like to drink.  One day, while sitting in the family section with the players’ wives and children, he made fun of my wife for not drinking. After my wife told me, I should have jumped him hard but I was a moral coward in those days and kept quiet. I should have reminded him of the large number of priests who became alcoholics and that the Catholic Church had their distilleries going strong even during “prohibition.” But I must pass on, not out.

I know that you are now just bored to death, but I must include just one more story. I never could quite understand why some players, after they got drunk on the airplanes, would come toward the front of the plane and sit by me and want to talk about religion.   I was polite, but I would usually inform them that when they were sober again, I would be glad to talk to them. Well, they never did.  That is, want to talk when they were sober.  Maybe when they were drunk, as Lew Burdette had explained to me, their real character was coming out. So perhaps, I should have encouraged them to get drunk again so that we could have an honest talk about religion. This is all rather confusing.  But you know, that’s baseball, and that’s the way it was many years ago. Well, I could go on with many other such baseball stories about drinking, but it would probably just be plain boring. Oh, one more thing that I have noticed about some good that comes out of being a celebrity and an alcoholic at the same time. You can join A.A., become a counselor and people will listen to you. I am often told, “Don’t knock it unless you have tried it!” I know it must be thrilling to fall off a 20 story building, but I think I will leave that experience for others. So long kids. And no, these stores will probably not be in my book.  I do not like “tell all” books. And when it comes to social drinking, I think that I am a lost cause.

         Remembering the old times, Love, Dad