Fights between players and umps, fights with fans, illegal drug use, gambling and more...this is what can often be found discussed on the Sports Pages of American Newspapers these days.
Were things kinder, gentler, simpler in the era before the infamous Black Sox Scandal, and Shoeless Joe Jackson?
A new item up for possible auction may, or may not give a clue. ;-D
Robert Edward Auctions report on their blog that they received a collection of "odds and ends from the estate of baseball historian Al Kermisch."
One was an 1898 document titled "Special Instructions To Players," which took serious issue with "the use of obscene language by players at the ballpark, to intimidate umpires and opposing players, and to verbally battle with unfriendly fans."
This piece is ironic as it provides many examples of exactly the kind of “brutal language” that was being outlawed. In fact, it is so over the top that at first we thought it was some type of a joke. But as we examined the paper, found that this language did exist in the 1890s, considered that general rowdiness and the use of obscene language by players were big issues in baseball in this era, and noted that the accompanying items were all from the same era, we soon realized that that this was not a joke at all. This was actually a fascinating and historically significant baseball document, distributed to National League players, that captures an aspect of professional baseball from the rough-and-tumble single-League 1890s era that is not well documented. Granted, in terms of language, it is also the most offensive official Major League baseball document that we have ever seen. That makes it all the more amusing to us, but we also recognize that maybe this is a piece that isn’t for the entire family. Truck drivers, yes, sailors, yes, ballplayers in the 1890s, obviously yes. But probably not everyone.
They are looking for opinions on whetther they should include the document in their spring catalog.
I love it!
Never shy, myself, about the use of a naughty word on occasion, or the creation of, um, risque humor, I heartily recommend it to anyone with a taste for naughty language.
Considering what can legally be sent thru the mail, not to mention e-mail, in these enlightened times, I was amused to find that at the end of the document is the line "UNMAILABLE. Must be forwarded by Express".
Apparently someone could have been prosecuted for sending obscenities through the mails once upon a time. ;-D
A Tip of the Hat to Language Hat, where some of the commenters think that though the language may be authentic, the document might actually be a 19th Century Printer's Joke, even though there seems to have actually been a meeting on the issue under discussion. ;-D