“People ask me what I do in winter when there is no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
That quote, now a part of the modern baseball fan’s vernacular, perfectly captures the horrible pain and struggle we all feel during the offseason. Many know that this quote belongs to Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby, but only a handful are aware of its true origins. The assumption amongst those in the baseball world is that the quote, while undeniably powerful, was entirely hyperbolic in nature. Hornsby could never have actually spent an entire winter staring out the window, right? Right. Wrong.
Last week, I was cleaning out some elderly lady’s attic in an older neighborhood of St. Louis as part of court-mandated community service (I ripped off that tag you always see on sleepwear). After about an hour of sorting and organizing I stumbled upon what appeared to be a very old leather back journal. Looking closely I could make out an inscription on the cover that had clearly been worn down over the years: “Rogers Super Secret Dairy.”
What I found inside is downright amazing. It is transcribed below, word-for-word, exactly how I found it. The photographs you see were taped to the pages at various points. It’s truly an astounding story, and I believe one that needs to be told. I hope you think so too.
Pretty amazing right? So I’ve done a little background research on that offseason and it seems like no one in the media was able to make contact with Rogers at all. Furthermore, there were reports during spring training that Hornsby was struggling with boils on his feet, which made it extremely difficult for him to perform at such a high level. Before this Diary (Dairy) was found, baseball historians were absolutely perplexed with the sudden drop off that occurred towards the end of Hornsby’s career. He went from a 10-5 win player, to barely above replacement level, and it all happened during one season. Guess which season? You’re right; 1932. It looks like the toll of sitting in the same chair the entire offseason was a huge detriment to not only the ’32 season, but the rest of the Rajah’s career.
While Hornsby’s career-crippling, window-related injuries are tragic, they must be viewed in a sacrificial context. Hornsby did what no other baseball player has ever done: dedicate himself to the game during its long and brutal offseason. Hornsby’s noble journey embodied the struggle of the offseason and now we are all better for it. Ask any big baseball fan what he does during the offseason and I bet you he mentions good ol’ Rogers and his wintery window.