For 1954 Oriole Abrams, game no longer the same


June 16, 1994|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Sun Staff Writer

Don't bother inviting Cal Abrams to a major-league baseball game. Even if he were to go, which is unlikely, he would probably grumble through the whole thing.

The 1954 Oriole would be scrutinizing the players' every move, weighing their performances against their titanic salaries, viewing the spectacle from the perspective of a man who made $22,000 in his best year and harbors some ill feelings about his baseball experience.

At 70, Abrams acknowledges "mixed feelings" about the game, in which he bounced among five teams in eight years, winding up in the minors at 32 with a wife, children, a mortgage and little hope of playing major-league ball again. Abrams' last stop in the big leagues was Chicago, where he appeared in four games with the White Sox in 1956 before the team optioned him to the minor-league Miami Marlins to make room for power hitter Larry Doby.

Rather than report to the minors, Abrams left baseball.

He owned bars on Long Island for a few years, then through an acquaintance found work as a manager of Off-Track Betting parlors in New York. About four years ago Abrams moved with his wife, May, to Tamarac, Fla., where he goes to jai

alai, plays golf and travels on cruises.

Abrams says that he doesn't follow baseball and that he was not enthusiastic about the arrival of major-league baseball in Florida with the advent of the Marlins in 1993.

"I don't consider that major-league, the games here in Joe Robbie," says Abrams, who played outfield for the Orioles in 1954 and 1955, batting .293 and .243, respectively. "The Marlins in Miami in 1956 could probably beat the Marlins today. We had Satchel Paige pitching for us."

He has been to major-league baseball games with one of his sons but has a hard time watching it. For one thing, he says, the games take too long. For another, he considers many of the players sloppy on fundamentals: "I look at it professionally. I see fellows throwing balls over the cutoff man. I see all this minor-league stuff. And, for this, these guys make $1 million to $29 million a year."

Abrams has not shunned the baseball scene entirely, however. He still makes appearances at card shows and acts as card-show booking agent for other ballplayers. The memories, he says, are not all sour.

"The good feelings -- the first grand slam in the majors [against the New York Giants.] Enjoying the sport, loving the game."

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