Check out this link to ESPN’s Rob Neyer’s Sweetspot about Big Red Machine starting pitcher, Gary Nolan. Nolan’s arm was hurting, and he had already missed signficant big league time due to injury. This isn’t the whole story; you’ll need to read Neyer’s whole piece to put it all in context, but it’s amazing how some of these players are treated at times. This is Neyer quoting from <=”Joe Posnanski’s new (stll unreleased) book about the 1970’s Reds (this article is titled “Manuel of New York: Medieval Manager”) on Neyer’s ESPN blog:
One day, the Reds executive Dick Wagner called Gary and said that the club had set up an appointment for him with a dentist. A dentist! “We think this will cure you,” Wagner said. Well, Gary went to the office, and the dentist fished around in his mouth for a few minutes and finally said, “I have found your problem. You have an abscessed tooth.” Gary shook his head; he had never felt any pain in his tooth. The dentist explained that such pain often transfers to another part of the body — maybe the right shoulder. The dentist pulled the tooth, and he promised Gary relief.
There was no relief, of course, his shoulder hurt more than ever. Dentists from around the country wrote in to say that there was no way an abscessed tooth could cause a man’s arm to shoot with pain. Gary understood. The Reds had sent him to a witch doctor. They thought the pain was all in his head…
I’ve heard this story before, and I’ve written a bunch about how much better the Reds could have been if they had respected their pitching arms. They devalued their talent and, more or less, felt that pitchers just grow on trees.
But, this story is just rather pitiful. I mean, I grew up in the country, and I heard about unlicensed “doctors” who could look into your eyes or check your teeth and give you your health history and predict future ailments (the predecessor to DNA analysis?), but to think that professionals would either believe this, or think Nolan would get the pain “out of his head.”
Another Reds story, told to me by a tour guide from Louisville Slugger Museum, located at the Hillerich & Bradsby Company, the maker of Louisville Slugger bats:
The Reds (not certain if it was 1970’s or 80’s) went into a hitting slump after receiving a new shipment of bats. They called Hillerich & Bradsby to complain about the quality of the bats. The Louisville Slugger people told them to lay all the bats in the sun behind a dugout and that would help “seal” the bats’ finish a little more. The Reds did so and their hitting picked up.
The Louisville Slugger rep said the sunlight didn’t do anything at all, but it got the Reds through their slump.