I recently had lunch with an old-timer who played in the 1940s, and he said something I’ve heard from other old baseball people before. We were on our way to the restaurant when he remarked that players today couldn’t hold a candle to earlier baseball generations. I didn’t say much because the old-timer’s a nice man, and I didn’t want to argue or disrespect, and I happen to disagree.
Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball history, though I assume players are better than ever today. I assume modern players are stronger, faster, and able to throw harder. I write often on my website about projecting old players to the modern era, and I generally stress the importance of allowing players time to make adjustments. I assume if a long-ago great, even Babe Ruth, was merely dropped into today’s majors via time portal, he might look more out of place than the Bambino did in 1935 ignominiously closing his career with the Boston Braves.
I also assume earlier players had it easier not having to deal with backdoor sliders, tightly condensed schedules, or black competition. I assume coaching is more sophisticated, injury treatment better, and training aids, such as video, greatly more evolved. And, barring any unforeseen catastrophe for Major League Baseball, I assume players will only continue to evolve, that the next generation of ballplayers will be even better than this one.
I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts, and I’ll keep this short. I think cases could be made for either side, and I’d love to hear them.