Occasionally, you hear about how watered down the Majors are compared to what they’d be if there were fewer teams. There is some truth to that, but it ignores the fact that A) the fact that so many cities can now see Major League Baseball is good not only for baseball, but America and B) the so-called “Golden Age” that those writers so often harken back to was the 40s and 50s- when there were far fewer sources of foreign talent and where several teams still hadn’t desegregated.
Of course, this is in no way new, as you’ll see in a April 1968 Baseball Digest excerpt after the jump:
This article ends with a sentence that states that, as evidence of this, a poll of managers and local sportswriters had declared that in 1967, Johnny Bench was the only MLB-worthy player in the International League. I wonder what Dave May, Hal McRae, Manny Sanguillen, Sandy Alomar Sr., Jerry Koosman, Dock Ellis, Tug McGraw, Sparky Lyle, Mike Marshall, and many others would think about that. Although, to be fair, maybe Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press was talking about future Hall-of-Famers who were regulars in the IL in 1967. Then he’d be right (Nolan Ryan and a rehabbing Jim Palmer appeared in the IL in ’67, but only briefly). Well, he’d be right until Bobby Cox goes into Cooperstown as a manager in a few years.
By the way, immediately after this, there’s an article that extrapolates a future (1998) where Robert F. Kennedy is the commissioner of baseball (whoops) and both the AL and NL are nearing 70 teams. Oh, and some of those teams include the Tel Aviv Tribesmen (who have just become the 69th member of the NL), the Muskogee (Okla.) Squawmen and the Albandy (GA) Segregationists. And, it is noted, Milwaukee will be the 69th city in the AL.
In other words, even the tale of Rockets Rigby was more realistic.