Recently, I was lucky enough to get an interview with Dennis "The Gypsy" McCorkle, who at 112 years of age is the oldest living former major league baseball player. McCorkle began his career in 1912 and played until 1929 and was given his nickname because he never stayed with any team for very long. Here is some of what he had to say:
TDB: Mr. McCorkle, looking at baseball today, you must be glad that steroids weren’t a problem during your playing days.
DM: What? You’ll have to speak up sonny…my hearing aid fades in and out.
TDB: I said, steroids, not a problem in your day!
DM: Oh…not really, no. I think Ty Cobb might have had em’, probably why he was so mean. We didn’t have Preparation H back then.
TDB: No, steroids…never mind. Is it true that you knew the great Babe Ruth.
DM: Yeah, that was during the half season I spent with the Red Sox. In fact I’m the one who talked the owner to trade the fat bastard. I said look, all he cares about is beer and hookers…you’ll never hear about him again. The rest as they say is history.
TDB: So you were responsible for the curse of the Bambino that hung over Boston for so long?
DM: The curse of the who?
TDB: Er…Babe Ruth…we were talking…
DM: I knew him, don't ya know! It was during the half season I spent with the Red Sox. In fact I’m the one who…
TDB: OK, moving on. Mr. McCorkle your career was interrupted by World War One… is that correct?
DM: Yeah, I went over to France, that’s where I met Fifi. I tried to teach those Frenchies about baseball using a stale loaf of bread and a wadded up ball of Gruyere cheese, but all they cared about was soccer…or was it sodomy…no, it was soccer.
(Fifi, a one-eyed artist’s model well known in Paris for her weekly suicide attempts was the first of McCorkle’s four wives)
TDB: So after the war, you return to the states and start playing again. Is it true that in those days a lot of players had to find other kinds of work during the off season?
DM: Hell yeah, that’s true! We didn’t get paid the bazillions of dollars these young fellas get today.
TDB: What were some of the jobs you had?
DM: Well, in the early days, I was a lifeguard at a public pool…until that time that kid almost drowned. I told that whipper snapper to quit the horseplay, but he wouldn’t listen. So when he hit his head and went under, I said "Serves you right" and didn’t move from my chair.
Oh, I was gonna pull him out at the last minute, but his Ma started making a big fuss and I got fired. Women…always coddling their kids…tough love is what they need.
TDB: I guess love doesn’t get any tougher that death by drowning.
DM: Damn right! Anyway, later on during prohibition, I made some money working for some small time gangsters…delivering bootleg gin and beating the crap out of people who didn’t pay their tabs at the speakeasy.
TDB: A regular role model weren’t you? And to think you were never put on the Wheaties box.
TDB: Nothing, Mr. McCorkle, it’s been an honor. Do you have any final words of wisdom?
DM: Does this foot look infected?
(Two weeks after this interview Dennis "The Gypsy" McCorkle slipped into a deep coma. After lingering on for another month, his family finally pulled the plug…and strangled him with it)