They all have helmets, these Orioles. Some of the Orioles in 1944 and 1945 did not; there were about 15 helmets of assorted styles, sizes and colors to protect the heads of 20 some players. Substitution could be a time-consuming process then; headgear had to be exchanged, and sometimes footwear, too, as football shoes were also in short supply. Some perennial substitutes were obliged to wear sneakers; a few even tried work boots. Injured players, like dead soldiers on the battlefield, had the shoes stripped from their feet almost as soon as they fell. My recollection is that by 1946 the equipment situation had improved a bit.
Split lip tended to, the players move off the field to a grassless patch where they attack dummies. The assistant coach, wearing sweat pants, a T shirt and a pot belly, props up a sizable canvas sausage, and the players attempt to shoulder it around. The head coach yells, "Dig! Dig, dammit! Hit it, man! Hit it! Ride it outta there!" After some minutes of being dug, hit and rode outta there, the assistant coach relinquishes his job to a fat boy who is less skilled at dummy propping. Shortly he is knocked down by a particularly ferocious blocker, chewed out by the coach and laughed at by his fellow players. A while later he gets revenge. When the particularly ferocious blocker returns for another lunge, the fat boy shoves the dummy aside. The blocker's face plows into the dirt. The fat boy laughs. The enraged ferocious blocker springs up and charges at the fat boy, who runs. He moves well; fair speed, nice change of pace, neat fakes. Not Tony Dorsett exactly, but good enough to keep the ferocious blocker grabbing air. The coach toots his whistle indignantly.
Milt, the third oldtimer, turns and shakes his head. "He don't want to use the blocking sled, this guy. The Booster Club built the thing years ago; old Obed Erickson laid it out and welded it for us real neat, like what they got in college. But this guy don't want to use it; outdated, he says. So he's got this sort of monkey business going on. I don't know."
I don't know either. It is now 4:10 and still 82�. The young man with shorts, running shoes, sweat shirt, John Deere cap and whistle is explaining the desirability of hard work and no monkey business to the 1985 Orioles, less Leroy, who is hauling grain, and the fat boy and the ferocious blocker, who are running laps. I suggest to Milt that it might be the proper moment to adjourn to the Legion club rooms. He agrees. We rise and wander east to refreshment, the analysis of teams present and the remembrance of things past.