In Johnny Blanchard’s Day

[imgbelt img=Blanchard-with-gloves-340.jpg]There may be no crying in baseball, but there’s lamentation. Doug Burns remembers the game before fantasy leagues, when a hero might send a postcard from New York.


kind enough to share with me.

During his Yankees career, Blanchard sure didn’t leave Carroll out to dry. A young Barry Bruner, then and now a Yankees fan, sent a letter to Blanchard in the New York area and received a thoughtful hand-written note on the back of a collectible postcard in return.

[imgcontainer left] [img:Blanchard-with-gloves-340.jpg] [source]Courtesy of Douglas Burns

Johnny Blanchard played for the New York Yankees 1955-1965, but before that he was a star on the Caroll Merchant team.

“It was kind of an annual tradition that I’d write my heroes,” Bruner, now a 58-year-old attorney, said. “The vast majority of them would write back. Guys would take the time to hand-write them and send them to you.”

The accessibility and decency of players like Blanchard who emerged from the town-team leagues no doubt made the game of baseball something far more in the 1950s and 1960s than it is today.

“That was really the most I ever got into baseball — it was really good,” said Art Neu, a Carroll attorney now in his 70s who recalled attending Merchants games.

As a counterpoint to Merchants-vintage baseball, I participated as a fan in the Major Leagues e-era Sunday night with media colleagues from Carroll Broadcasting and others in a fantasy draft. In fantasy baseball we act as virtual general managers and select players for our rosters in anticipation of earning points each week based on the statistical performances of the squad.

Tom Hanks was spot-on when, in the movie “A League of Their Own,” he observed there is no crying in baseball. Well, there’s no team loyalty or sentimentality in fantasy baseball. You take the best players with the best numbers when they’re available — even if they play for teams you despise, like, well, the Yankees. And you monitor it all real-time on the Internet. The faster you get information on an injured player or waiver, the better chance your team has.

The interactivity of following baseball this way clearly has merits.