From Jim Bouton's 1970 baseball classic Ball Four:
Before the game today Rollie Sheldon was talking about old-timers. It's a funny thing, but athletes have improved tremendously through the years in every sport where performance can be objectively measured---track and field, swimming, etc. Yet in other sports, especially boxing and baseball, there are always people who say the old-timers were better---even unmatched.
I don't believe that, and I was very interested when Sheldon pointed out some figures in the Hall of Fame book. Like, old "Hoss" Radbourne, who played before the turn of the century. He pitched the last 27 games of the season for his team and won 26 of them. Old Hoss was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 168. Some hoss! Pony is more like it.
Some of the other heights and weights in the book were great. Wilbert Robinson was 5-9 and 215 pounds. Can you imagine what he looked like? Which reminds of what Johnny Sain used to say on Old-Timers' days:
"There sure is a lot of bullshit going on in here today. The older they get the better they were when they were younger."
Tags: Bouton, Ball Four