As tests go, it wasn't exactly the bar exam, or even the SAT. A number 2 pencil was not required; a number 15 sunscreen was. It wasn't even a test so much as an informal pop quiz, sprung at spring training. The oral exam was on baseball history, and those who were examined were baseball players, many of whom have made baseball history.
The exam scores are now in, even the late-breaking ones from the West, and the results say much about major league baseball. Mainly that baseball players (apologies to Sam Cooke) don't know much about history. "I think most players don't know that Cy Young was a pitcher," says Montreal Expo manager Buck Rodgers. "I think most players think Cy Young is just the name of an award."
The results reconfirm, in detail that would be highly entertaining if it weren't just a little bit depressing, something we already knew: that baseball's ties to its own past are fraying, rapidly and irreparably. Washington, D.C., has been summarily waved away as a serious site for expansion. Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, revered broadcaster Ernie Harwell in Detroit, and Comiskey Park in Chicago are going, going and gone, respectively. In fact, as a home run call, "Going, going, gone" seems to have gone, or is at least going.
In short, it appears that baseball history will soon be history.
How bad is it?
"I think," offers charitable Pittsburgh Pirate manager Jim Leyland, "most players know who Babe Ruth was."
History in the Unmaking, Part I: It is 1985. Don Mattingly, tenant in The House That Ruth Built and heir to Lou Gehrig as the New York Yankees' first baseman, says, "To be honest, I never heard of Gehrig until I came here. And honestly, at one time I thought Babe Ruth was a cartoon character. I really did. I mean, I wasn't born until 1961."
Paleontologists generally assert that modern history dawned in the year 1962, which they now refer to as 1 A.D. (After Don). Coincidentally, that was also the year history dawned for the New York Mets, who became caretakers to some of baseball's richest memories before they so much as played a game.
The Mets chose to wear blue and orange as a tribute to the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, who wore those respective colors. You already know that the Dodgers and Giants are the two National League franchises the Mets replaced in New York. Perhaps you've heard that until 1958 the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field in Flatbush, and until 1958 the Giants played at the Polo Grounds below Coogan's Bluff, where the Mets also played for their first two seasons. It was at the Polo Grounds that the Giants' Bobby Thomson hit The Shot Heard 'Round the World, off Brooklyn's Ralph Branca—arguably baseball's single most thrilling moment.