There is a famous photograph in baseball's archives of Enos Slaughter striding off the field after a brawl, his jersey torn to shreds. He walks erect, proud and bare-chested.
"And his hat's turned around backwards," recalls California Manager Gene Mauch, correctly. "That fight was the Yankees against the White Sox."
There is also a picture of Ted Williams crossing the plate after his 400th homer. He is spitting toward the Fenway Park press box.
"He also gave 'em the finger," says veteran umpire George Maloney. "Cost him $5,000, too."
And in a final classic frame, an umpire is flat on his back in the dirt. A very large fan is sitting on his chest and has just delivered a haymaker that is an inch from the arbitor's chin. The cops are coming, but they aren't there yet.
"The umpire is George Magerkurth," remembers Baltimore Oriole General Manager Hank Peters.
Although these three famous photographs are all more than a quarter-century old, they remain vivid in the minds of lifetime baseball folk.
Each picture speaks of an unwritten code of conduct within baseball that took 100 years to evolve. Each also reminds us of a system of behavior that, in just one generation, has changed so drastically some say it is unrecognizable.
These photographs recall a time when the game was harder, meaner, poorer, more comprehensible and less complicated. It was an age with more beanballs and high spikes, fewer agents and lawyers; an era with more violent, less-educated men who, nonetheless, had more respect for authority and, perhaps, for each other than players today.
On the surface, it would seem that these old newspaper photos merely prove how baseball history keeps repeating itself, how baseball's code of conduct changes very little, and only in inessential ways.
After all, in last week's craziness, didn't Garry Templeton of St. Louis make Williams-like obscene gestures at his hometown fans, then get suspended indefinitely without pay until he apologizes?
Didn't Philadelphia Manager Dallas Green draw a five-day suspension for bumping umpire Steve Fields, then snatching the ump's hat, throwing it to the ground and stomping on it? And didn't two umps in that crew get themselves in trouble by tangling with a TV crew and damaging a $40,000 camera?
And wasn't it the week when, after a brushback war, the Dodgers and Pirates had a bench-clearing brawl in which both teams poured from their dugouts into a shared runway under the stands for a private brawl?
Although outwardly similar to the brouhahas of the past, these episodes show several kinds of subtle changes in baseball's pattern of behavior.
"Until the last five years, no player would have dreamed of doing what Templeton did," says Ray Miller, pitching coach of the Orioles. "It's only the security of a long-term guaranteed contract that could delude a player into thinking he could insult the fans who pay his salary."
"When I think of Templeton, I think of the insidious effects of long-term contracts. The whole incident started when he dogged it on a play," says Peters. "In the old days, everything was one year at a time. Next year's pay was determined by this year's play. There were always a minority of players who lacked the proper 'intensity,' to borrow one of those football words. But, now, that minority is growing.
"Once you've got that big, multiyear contract, I'm afraid there's a tendency to think that your primary goal is not to get seriously injured until the option year of that contract comes up . . . We may have been through that a bit this year with Steve Stone."
Stone, in the third year of a four-year contract, had elbow pain before the strike; the Orioles said he did not throw for more than two months although doctors told the team he could resume work.
"During the strike, we tried to contact him all over the country to talk about a throwing program," said Peters, "but we never got him to the phone. Seems somehow we always just kept missing him. Rabbit (Miller) must have felt like a subpoena-server."
"It's real strange that Hank didn't reach me. I was not avoiding Hank," said Stone when informed of Peters' comments. "I did throw during the strike but not to a catcher . . . How else could I have come back and pitched in a simulated game one week after the strike was settled . . . I didn't see any need to reinjure my arm (by throwing hard to a catcher)."
"Steve is back (pitching) now and everything's fine," continued Peters. "But I believe, in his own mind, that Steve thought: 'The main thing for me to do this season is stay healthy because next year is my option year . . .' We have a situation in baseball now where the intelligent self-interest of a player and the best interests of his team aren't always the same."
Stone denied that applied to him. "I've never been accused of giving less than my best and that's what he's saying no matter how he sugar-coats his words," said Stone.
As the gap between management and players grows, the sense of mutual responsibility may also diminish.
"I was sorry to see Templeton treated so harshly," says Rod Carew. "No one condones what he did. But anybody who does something like that . . . don't you almost have to see it as a desperate cry for help? Don't you have to figure he needs a fatherly talk or professional treatment, rather than humiliation?
"I can sympathize because, for years, I was something like Templeton is now," said Carew. "I expressed my confusion by being moody, and even loafing. I'd disappear and not tell anybody where I'd gone. A lot of people took me the wrong way. Frankly, the Minnesota Twins babied me for years, and I'm grateful for that. If (manager) Billy Martin hadn't been such a great friend to me . . . if he'd come down on me with an iron fist like the Cardinals have with Templeton . . . I don't know where I'd be today," said Carew, now considered a model of baseball citizenship.
As players and management divorce themselves from each other, it is hardly surprising that players' on-field motives seem more selfish.
"The players are all in the same big fraternity now (the union)," says Mauch, baseball's senior manager. "You used to see a lot more hard slides at second base. Now, it's a tea party out there. 'Oh, excuse me, please.'
"Now, you might see one brushback pitch in a game, but, hell, I remember in the '40s and '50s if a guy hit a homer you might throw at him over and over until you drilled him good. And you'd knock a guy down once just for having too good a swing, even if he didn't hit the ball."
It's no surprise to hear middle-aged men reliving the old days. But it's novel to hear 34-year-old John Lowenstein of the Orioles say, "You see more 'gentlemen ballplayers' every year. It's no longer the game it was.
"You still have to maintain the same drive and enthusiasm if you want to derive the game's benefits. It's still a damn demanding game and with more pressure than most fans will ever believe. But it seems like there's an understanding among players not to jeopardize each other's health unnecessarily.
"Everything's so nice now," Lowenstein said, with the leer of a throwback.
Amusingly, the modern player is almost as likely to fight about style as substance. Last week, the Angels had a brawl that started when Disco Dan Ford was punctured by a fast ball. Had Ford homered? No, he'd just taken too long putting on his batting glove and adjusting his tight-fitting doubleknits.
"It's called 'stylin' and it's taking over the damn game," says Miller. "I'm only 36, but I feel like an old-timer. We used to call it hot dogging if you did a bunch of fancy, unnecessary crap to draw attention to yourself and show up another player."
Some veterans, with Miller's outlook, think the proper reward for a 'stylin' player is a fast ball in the ribs.
"Now, guys after one or two decent seasons make an epic out of getting into the batters box. They wait until the whole world is watching them. If Mike Hargrove, Rickey Henderson, Carlton Fisk, Dan Ford or one of the rest of these showboats ever leads the league in hitting, we'll never finish another game . . . They'll have to turn off the stadium lights and turn on a spotlight as the guy comes to the plate.
"During the strike, I saw little league games where 8-year-old kids would get a hit, then delay the game while they changed from a 'batting' glove to a 'sliding' glove. It's a disease," said Miller. "I coached third base in Triple-A for a few games in July and I was getting wounded after home runs. You need an instruction manual to figure out all the new handshakes. You stick out your hand and anything can happen to it.
"I tried to go along with the program and give Dallas Williams (of Rochester) a 'high five.' I just casually stuck my arm up and he almost dislocated my shoulder. Those high fives look easy, but they're war."
It is interesting that the same people who are nostalgic about the ancient code of baseball are the same people most chagrined at the loss of respect toward traditional authority figures.
"Everything that happens in sport has filtered down from the rest of society," says Mauch, "so, naturally, we've seen less and less respect for authority. When I grew up, the preacher, the cop, your parents and the umpire were always right. And you acted that way.
"There are times when an umpire hurts you so badly, that you'd give anything to return a little bit of that hurt," says Mauch, a renowned umpire chewer who once threw every bat in the bat rack onto the field in a rage. "But I've never touched an umpire because then you're degrading the game."
Once, it was unthinkable to touch an umpire. If Leo Durocher kicked dirt on an arbitor's shoes, it provoked scandal.
Now, greater violations are met with lesser punishments. Last season, Bill Madlock rubbed his glove in an umpire's face --15-day suspension. This year, Billy Martin ran into an ump, chest-to-chest and hard, and got seven days, although he apologized yesterday. Finally, last week, Green defiled Fields' hat -- five days.
"There used to be a reverence for baseball," says Mauch, "and the umpires symbolized it. That doesn't exist any more."
"People like that insubordination stuff. They eat it up these days," says veteran umpire Maloney. "So, the people who run the game and pay the freight don't get too upset about it.
"Hell, what's a $1,000 fine to these guys? They write it off as a donation to charity and get a tax credit for it. All things considered I think we've been backed up decently by the league offices. A suspension is still a deterrent. The meaning of money may change, but time stays the same."
It is a verboten topic, but some baseball incidents are exacerbated by the hatred among union umpires and the handful of nonunion, strike-breaking umps.
"When we heard that Dallas Green was going to be fined for showing up Fields, who's one of the 'scabs,' " says Maloney, "we thought about taking up a collection among ourselves to pay the fine for him."
All four umpires in Maloney's crew laugh at this.
All baseball knows that union umpires ostracize nonunion umpires, and also isolate them during games by refusing to offer assistance. The extra implication of the Maloney joke is that any player or manager who makes life tough for the outcasts may be making points with the union umpires.
One recent night in Baltimore, the Orioles' mascot performed one of the latest conduct-stretching rituals: the prearranged mock humiliation of the visiting third base coach. Moved by impromptu inspiration, the Bird plucked the hat off the head of the Angels' Preston Gomez with a broom handle and flung it away. Gomez, 40 years in baseball, looked foolish.
Earl Weaver glanced at Ray Miller. They didn't need to exchange many words. The Bird was told to check future gags with all concerned. A messenger was dispatched to the Angel bench with a formal explanation.
And Weaver personally apologized to Gomez.
"Aw, it was a small thing," said Miller. "But Preston's done too much for the game to be put in that position. It was over the line."
Each day, less things remain on the forbidden side of that faint and fading line.