Times Snodgrasses Fregosi Obit
This was the New York Times headline on the death of Jim Fregosi:
At least they got the “All Star” in there first.
It's not just the sentiment of the second part—he is most famous for whom he was traded—it's the awkward construction. It's the passive voice. A man should never get the passive voice in his own obit.
In a larger sense, though, the headline recalls the Times hed from 1974 on the death of turn-of-the-century ballplayer Fred Snodgrass, which Ken Burns' “Baseball” documentary highlighted as part of the cruelty of baseball's long memory:
You live your life, make the Majors, go .300/.400/.400 in your first full season, become a banker and a rancher and a mayor, and what are you remembered for? Your Charlie Brown moment. Baseball, not to mention headlines, can be cruel this way.
I wonder what Jim Fregosi would have said if you'd asked him what he remembered most about his career. Being a six-time All Star? Hitting .290 in the pitching-centric year of 1967? Leading the league in triples? Hitting for the cycle twice? One Gold Glove, some MVP votes, five different teams. But he gets no say in the matter. Neither do I. I remember Fregosi less for the Ryan trade than for happenstance. He was one of those magical, musical-sounding names, along with Rico Petrocelli and Cesar Tovar and Roberto Clemente, that appeared in Topps baseball cards that I first started collecting in 1970 at the age of 7. He was a cardboard god.
But we get what we get, and most of us won't get anything. There's comfort in that, Ernie Broglio.