Baseball longevity doesn't get enough respect. I realized this when looking up Jim Kaat's career the other day. He's a good example of what I'm talking about.
He pitched for 25 seasons, tied for third most in baseball history, yet he's probably known more for being a TV announcer and/or winning 283 games.
At the other end is Sandy Koufax, Hall of Fame legend who pitched for only 12 seasons. The yin and yang of the mound crossed swords three times in the 1965 World Series with Koufax making his point twice.
Koufax was a comet screaming through the universe, scorching everything in its path.
Kaat was a coal train chugging coast to coast, leaving plumes of smoke in its wake.
Isn't that impressive in its own right? I'm not arguing necessarily Kaat deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, though he does have a case. He and others like him, known nowadays by the unflattering term "compiler,'' seem unappreciated. They're the equivalent of 9-to-5ers who've managed to remain employable. It takes luck and versatility to keep any job a long time nowadays.
I'm entering my 28th year of being gainfully employed. Since graduating from college in '85, I've had three jobs and never spent a day unemployed or had to move back with my parents. That doesn't make me a Hall of Famer in my profession or even an All-Star. It just makes me a cockroach with a personality.
So to Kaat, Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, Tommy John, Jamie Moyer and Charlie Hough -- the live-ball era ballplayers who have played a quarter of a century or more -- I'd like to present each with a gold-plated lapel pin for being heroes of The Cardboard Examiner.
Help yourself to some coffee and cake over here on your left.
Everyone else, back to work, stat.