Modern sports talk callers echo Alvin Dark, more subtly
Here is my Sunday newspaper column, in which I veer off in an unconventional direction from the controversial interview with Willie Randolph last week in The Record.
Venerable copy editor Greg Gutes sparked the idea, saying the incident reminded him of Stan Isaacs' chat with Alvin Dark that led to a Newsday column on July 23, 1964, in which Dark was quoted questioning the mental abilities and heart of his black and Latino players.
Before you dismiss Dark as a Neanderthal from a bygone era, compare this line to what you hear from some callers to sports talk radio in 2008 regarding the Mets' Hispanic-heavy lineup:
"You can't make most Negro and Spanish players have the pride in their team that you can get from white players."
(I will try again to reach Mr. Dark in the coming week to see if he has anything to say about any of this, 44 years later.)
Amazingly, it took Isaacs' Dark column nearly two weeks to become a national story in those pre-Internet days. But for its era, Ian O'Connor's Monday morning column on Randolph was shockingly slow to explode.
WFAN first mentioned it very late Monday afternoon, Newsday quoted it extensively Tuesday and it wasn't until Wednesday that the other New York papers got around to it.
Speaking of how times change, Isaacs spoke to Dark in San Francisco en route to covering a U.S. vs. USSR track meet in L.A. We used to send people cross-continent to cover track!?! Um, we don't do that anymore.