I thought I would try to cheer some of you [as well as myself] up with this odd photo taken from my collection of photos that I inherited from my grandfather Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes taken in 1933 during the height of the great depression. In that time period the game of Baseball was indeed America’s pastime and was a great diversion from the realities of day-to-day life. Owners used all sorts of gimmicks such as this elephant ride photo to get fans out to the ballpark to part with their hard-earned money, if they had any. Otherwise the games were broadcast over the radio and families would sit around on the front porch on hot summers nights listening to their favorite teams. My grandfather pictured at the head of the elephant anchored the pitching staff of the Boston Red Sox in 1933-34 pitching a total of 451 innings and going 24-27 in that two-year span for a mediocre team, and were his best years in the majors. It was a different era before the players Union was formed and many players had to work other jobs in the offseason or “Barnstorm” with pick-up teams to make ends meet. But as hard as life was for a player they all knew they were lucky to be playing Baseball for a living and as this photo shows they had some fun as well. Unlike todays teams like the Mariners the owners of the teams played a much larger role in the day-to-day affairs of the ball clubs and represented the upper-class of America. This was around the time of the major upheavals by the working class that came to fruition with events such as the West Coast Maritime strike in 1934 that gave birth to the American Labor movement.
Sadly most of the players like my grandfather were not represented by a Union and were basically the property of the owners forced to negotiate every year for a new contract and had no pension to fall back on when they retired from baseball. Of course one could argue that todays player have gone to far with their salaries and rights under the collective bargaining agreement, and that they aren’t as tough as the old-timers before them. I do think that in light of the current malaise being cast over the NW with this years Mariners collapse it is good to remember how lucky we are to have a Major League team and maybe take time to remember that baseball is indeed a game and that it is supposed to be fun! http://jeffsmariners.com