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"You know who that is, don't you?" he inquires of one of his relievers.
"Gee," responds the reliever, "I didn't know they put the names of umpires up on flags."
Donnelly bounces the name of another Cub Hall of Famer, pitcher Fergie Jenkins, around the bullpen. "They thought he was the leader of an orchestra," Donnelly recalls a year later. "You know, Ferguson Jenkins and the Royal Canadians."
Explanations for all of this and exceptions to all of this are in equally scant supply.
Nintendo is frequently fingered as a perpetrator. "Kids today have so many other things to do," says Leyland. "When we were kids, baseball was it. We knew everything about it." This argument might wash if there were any nine-year-olds on current 25-man rosters, but there aren't, although we occasionally wonder about Ozzie Guillen.
Some observers suggest that there are too few fans on the field. One National League coach thinks that given the choice, more major league players would rather watch a basketball game than a baseball game on TV. When he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982, Vince Coleman didn't know which teams were in the American League and which were in the National. "I knew who was in the AFC and NFC," says the Mets' centerfielder. "But I never watched or cared about baseball. I'm not any kind of baseball fan."
The human race has also been implicated. "It's people in general," says Trebelhorn. "I don't think people respect what's gone ahead of them. They aren't aware of those who have preceded them."
But the explanation most often cited is this: "When you talk about players, you are talking about doers," says Oakland A's pitching coach Dave Duncan. "They are spending their time playing the game. Otherwise, you don't make it to professional baseball or the major leagues."
How, then, to explain Dave Magadan and Daryl Boston of the Mets, both of whom can tell you the importance of the name McNally in baseball history, the significance of the number 130 and just where the hell Flatbush is. In an age when more players know what Luis Polonia did in Milwaukee (he was arrested for having sex with a minor there in 1989) than know what Warren Spahn did in Milwaukee (he won 20 games nine times there, between 1953 and 1963), Magadan and Boston both know that Spahn was lefthanded.
"The players I've had who've known the history were Vance Law, Terry Francona," says Rodgers. "Guys whose dads played the game."