He wouldn't be surprised.
History in the Unmaking, Part III: It is 1990. Pittsburgh shortstop Jay Bell has recently seen an episode of the 1950s program "Home Run Derby" repeated on ESPN. Bell cannot say enough about the prowess of a certain Yankee on the show who was driving balls out of the park again and again.
"You mean Mickey Mantle?" a reporter asks Bell.
"Yeah," says Bell. "That was his name."
"I am surprised every day when I bring up a name that nobody's heard of," says Rodgers. "Bobby Shantz. Eddie Mathews. Nellie Fox."
In 1987, then Baltimore Oriole Lee Lacy approached a writer and asked him if Nellie Fox hit 500 home runs. The 160-pound Fox hit 35 career home runs, Lacy was told. Jimmie Foxx hit 500 home runs. "Of course," says the scribe, "I could have told him Redd Foxx hit 500 home runs, and he would have believed me."
"I think," says 60-year-old Boston Red Sox manager Joe Morgan, "we had more respect for the players who played before us than the guys now. I might be wrong, but that's my impression. You bring up someone's name [now], and you get a blank stare."
"I'd heard of him, but I didn't know what he'd done," says Chicago Cub second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who grew up in Spokane and played in the first major league game he saw in person. (Mr. Cub hit 512 home runs over 19 major league seasons.)