Next time you read a column in which some crusty writer complains that players today don’t have the positive team-first attitudes that guys in previous generations did, go searching through some archives. The L.A. Times’ Keith Thursby did, and he found evidence that the whole “play me or trade me dynamic is nothing new (scroll down to the Zimmer story):
Fighting for his job after playing shortstop in 1958, Zimmer made headlines by complaining about general manager Buzzie Bavasi and whether he’d make as much money starting as coming off the bench. Not a good idea.
“From now on, Zimmer’s just another ballplayer as far as I’m concerned,” Bavasi said. “Jim Gilliam played second base on three pennant winners for us. Now, he’s more or less utility but he’s not complaining.”
Two days later, the story got better with the headline “I’d Be Cheap for Braves–Zimmer.” According to the UPI story carried by The Times, Zimmer said the Braves “could probably get me for a dozen baseball bats.” Zimmer figured he could start at second for the Braves. But Bavasi had the last word.
“Zimmer has assured me that he will stop popping off,” Bavasi said after they talked.
I’ve mentioned it before, but Thursby does a great job with this Daily Mirror feature. I don’t know why more papers don’t leverage their archives like this. It’s loads of fun and is one of the few areas where newspapers have an absolute advantage over online-only outlets.