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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A veteran baseball player engaged in one of the sport’s oldest pastimes: finding fault with young players, compared with the vastly superior old-timers.

“I believe the players of today will find they are not in a class with the old school performers,” said Joe Cantillon, who began his career in 1881. “There were 20 or 30 old school sluggers who hit .340 or .350 for 15 or 20 years, and mind you, most of them saw the spitter (spitball) and all of the Woods and Johnsons.”

He also disparaged the brains and creativity of the new players.

“I cannot recall a single player who in the last 10 years has introduced anything new in the line of playing or has offered any new suggestion that would really improve the game from a playing or rule-making standpoint,” Cantillon said. “The players of 25 years ago were just as nervy, just as fast and just as brainy as they are today. They were better fighters and had far more interest in their play than the athletes of today. … Every player in those days hated every man on the club to be played that day, and when the two captains came together to consult with the umpire it was like two bull-terriers turned loose from the benches, and once the game started it was for blood and not for averages.”

Cantillon did admit that modern players had introduced one innovation, the squeeze play. But then he added that “it was the rottenest play in baseball when it fails.”