TA94: Yount Rushmore; Jack Morris’ Lonely Farm

TA94: Yount Rushmore; Jack Morris’ Lonely Farm

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The press conference for Robin Yount’s retirement began with Bud Selig speaking for six minutes, pausing after each sentence in an approximation of gravitas. Sal Bando, GM and Yount’s former teammate, added a few words of his own. Behind them, the green and purple eyesore of a brand overhaul loomed, an unsubtle warning: change is here, and it’s not gonna go well.

“You could say I’ve never really looked forward to this day,” Yount began, failing to speak into the mic. “But it’s here.” That the speech was happening now, on February 11, made that clear: the bosses who had said such nice things had also been the ones telling him, in no uncertain terms, that his services as a starting ballplayer were no longer necessary. There’s a Roger Angell passage on Yount that I can’t find now—as with everything Angell, it can easily be dreamed in his voice—that casts the Hall of Famer as almost wordless, not out of a lack of intelligence, but through a pure internalization of his craft. Yount talking about baseball was like a violation, breaking the fourth wall; he was baseball. His speech, which was an explanation that he’d been offered a nebulous job by the team but would pursue some outside interests for a year, lasted one minute and nine seconds before he opened the floor for questions. He looked relieved when it was over.

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