Saturday, December 28, 2013

"He never made a great catch."

There was a great obituary of a good ballplayer in today's "New York Times." The ballplayer was Paul Blair, a fixture in centerfield for the great Baltimore Oriole teams in the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s.  You can read his obituary here.

The thing that really got me was a quotation about Blair's fielding prowess by Hall-of-Fame manager, Earl Weaver. Weaver said Blair "...Never made a great catch because he was standing under the ball when it came down."

In fact, when Tommie Agee of the Mets made a diving catch on Blair's line-drive in the 1969 World Series, Blair claimed he would have made the catch without leaving his feet.

There are showboats in every industry who earn plaudits and acclaim by doing spectacular things at the very last moments. Then there are workaday people who seem to come through, without elan or fanfare, day in and day out. They get the job done without leaving their feet.

I looked via Google and on YouTube.

There are no highlights of Paul Blair in centerfield. That could be a function of the era in which he played. It wasn't as heavily videotaped as every scrotum scratch seems to be recorded today.

It could be, more simply, that his extraordinariness was ordinary.

I think there's something extraordinary in that.

No comments: