As we near the middle of the 2011 season, we can’t help but notice that baseball is in a bit of a slump. While the steroid scandals, ticket prices that rival the cost of air travel and a diluted talent pool are often cited as reasons the game has lost some of its luster, we would argue the real problem is that professional baseball has lost its trashy edge.
In the 70s and 80s dugouts and stands were dens of inequity filled with smoking, drinking hell raisers. Today we are close to banning players from using chewing tobacco and the stadiums have become so antiseptic that there are specific seating areas set aside for those with peanut allergies.
For those yearning for the Halcyon days of frat like shenanigans, when a DUI was practically a rite of passage for rookies and pornstaches were the rule not the exception we look back on some great moments that celebrate the debauchery surrounding the sport.
Here are five great moments from the Golden Era of Trashy Baseball
5. Wife Swapping Under the House that Ruth Built (1972)
In the early 70s fellow Bronx Bombers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson really got into the swing of things. In a move that predated the sanitized reality television version by at least 30 years, the two pitchers decided to spice things up by swapping wives.
Purportedly after a late night of boozing at the home of Yankees beat reporter Maury Allen, the couples decided to play key party a la The Ice Storm. Fritz Peterson paired up with Mike Kekich’s wife, Susan while Mike teamed up with Mrs. Marilyn Peterson.
Mike and Susan Kelich
By October, the Yankee hurlers were so happy with the new line up they decided to make the change permanent and included their homes, children and pets in the late season trade.
Marilyn and Fritz Peterson
We aren’t the only ones still fascinated with this old school WAG exchange. Rumor has it that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are working on a movie called “The Trade” based on the scandal.
4. The Ultimate Product Pitchman: Charlie Kerfeld (1986)
While athletes under the influence aren’t a completely novel occurrence, we would argue none have been so entertaining as Charlie Kerfeld. During a postgame wrap up in the Astros locker room after clinching the 1986 National League West title, a red faced Kerfeld not only slurs and goofs his way through the interview, midway through he produces a can of Busch beer and proceeds to chug its contents while handling questions from reporter Bill Worrell.
Charlie Kaufield continued his hard living on camera antics the following season when he was caught eating a plate of ribs in the Bullpen. The incident is made even more poignant by the fact that Kerfeld was battling a weight problem and would soon be sent to the minors due to his expanding girth.
3. Cubs Manager Yes, I’ll Work Blue (1983)
Comedians and appalled fashion minded fans like to point out that baseball is the only major professional sport where the coaches dress in the same uniform as the players. It is kind of hard to imagine Phil Jackson showing up to a game in shorts, tank top and headband expecting to be taken seriously.
However silly it may look, we imagine that dressing alike promotes some kind of uber solidarity between player and coach. This may partially explain the following SERIOUSLY NSFW clip of Cubs manager Lee Elia defending his players.
According to the book “Entangled in Ivy”, Elia was upset after disgruntled fans dumped beer on Larry Bowa, Ron Cey and Keith Moreland as the losers made their way into the clubhouse.
In a string of epitaphs that would make a seasoned vice cop blush, Elia takes Cubs fans to task. While we are used to hearing f-word laced rants, what sets this one apart is Elia’s willingness to disparage the fans, and it gets pretty personal.
“Fuck those fuckin’ fans who come out here and say they’re Cub fans that are supposed to be behind you rippin’ every fuckin’ thing you do. I’ll tell you one fuckin’ thing, I hope we get fuckin’ hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them 3,000 fuckin’ people that show up every fuckin’ day, because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and PRINT IT.”
He then goes on to postulate on the employment status of the fans and who actually shows up to watch the games.
“They’re really, really behind you around here… my fuckin’ ass. What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let my fuckin’ players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the fuckin’ nickel-dime people who turn up? The motherfuckers don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the fuckin’ game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a fuckin’ living. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers. Rip them motherfuckers. Rip them fuckin’ cocksuckers like the fuckin’ players. We got guys bustin’ their fuckin’ ass, and them fuckin’ people boo. And that’s the Cubs?”
2. Pitching a No-Hitter on LSD (1970)
Pitching a no-hitter is one of the most exalted feats in baseball. It is such a rare accomplishment that in the hundreds of thousands of games played, only 271 have been thrown in the history of Major League Baseball (1876-2011). Amazingly, Pittsburgh Pirate Doc Ellis managed to pitch one under the influence of narcotics, and we aren’t talking about a performance enhancing drug.
The back story, Ellis had been visiting friends in Los Angeles under the impression he had the day off and decided to partake in some recreational drug fun during his downtime. He was still tripping balls when he realized he had to pitch a game against the Padres that night. Incredibly, Ellis arrived at the ballpark in time to throw a rainbow laced psychedelic no-hitter.
In his own words, Ellis recounts the trip:
“I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the (catcher’s) glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder.”
Pretty nuts, huh? Well it only gets better.
“I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me.”
1. The Ultimate Bench Clearing Brawl (1984)
Sucker punches, shirtless players and fan participation…this 1984 multi-round blow up between the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves is the stuff legendary bench clearing brawls are made of. The very first pitch of the game, Braves pitcher Pasqual Perez nails the Padres Allan Wiggins in the kidney. What follows is a beanball fest by both teams punctuated by fist fights and dogpiles. By the end of the game, 13 players and coaches had been ejected and five fans arrested.
Not surprisingly, one of the two teams involved were the San Diego Padres, an organization Sports Illustrated referred to as All My Padres, in an article likening their history to a soap opera. Highlights recount owner and McDonalds mogul Ray Kroc apologizing to fans for the poor performance of the team in his first game as new owner by announcing over the public address system, “I’ve never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life,” and a few years later pitcher Goose Gossage claiming that the Krocs were “poisoning the world with their hamburgers.”