I recently joined a Facebook group that discusses the 1960s series “The Fugitive.” It doesn't discuss the movie, or the reboot, which I enjoyed quite a bit, as well. One of the things that becomes apparent quite early when discussing things from the mid-to-late 1960s is how different they were from any time to follow it. This applies across genres, and includes both good and bad. This is a look back at a time when a team could roll with a player who had very limited power atop the lineup.
"And for the Cubs, Don Kessinger will lead off, and play shortstop. Glenn Beckert will hit second and play second. Billy Williams will bat third, and play left field. Ron Santo will play third, and hit fourth." From there, it varied, but I could almost set my watch by Jack Brickhouse announcing those four, if the feel of a watch on my wrist wasn't so infuriating.
People now look at that lineup creation and notice a few things. The Cubs never really had a pure lead-off hitter, rarely had a useful center fielder, and could have been a bit better "if only." However, baseball is very slow to change. Sometimes, getting your fanny kicked year-in and year-out wasn't enough. Also, fewer players lifted in the off-season.
The players that were freaks were the ones like the very tall Frank Howard, or the very thick Harmon Killebrew. For whatever reason, the Cubs weren't able to locate the Hank Aaron or Willie Mays types, and botched their chance with Lou Brock. Beckert was very serviceable at second, and had quite a few good seasons teaming with Don Kessinger up the middle. I even got his autograph in 1971 when he was out with a hand injury that ended his season early. As has been mentioned, he seemed a rather respectful and quiet player. Which was how many players were back then, especially the quiet part.
In the 1960s "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton had yet to be released. What happened in a locker room, by and large, stayed there. Athletes didn't tend to have a dual core as media outlets. It wasn't "better" that way, necessarily. It was, however, what was expected. Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson were just beginning their managerial careers. Managing "by the book" was expected, and (RBI/pitcher wins) mattered to people.
Nowadays, things that are often taken as givens by many, like shifting the lineup or daily roster moves, didn't happen. Should they have been used? Maybe, but it wasn't time for that, yet. Along with other “advances.” As you look at the game now, realize that, if it survives, some modifications are likely. A few will be useful, and some will be objected to every step by some. Because baseball tends to be slow to change.
Glenn Beckert's time in uniform was different. Normal looking players, from physical perspectives, thrived. Analytics weren't as important. Games weren't televised as often. Ticket prices were cheaper. For those that wish to wax nostalgic, have at it. For those more current, your game will be changed, as well.
Too often, people think their era of baseball is "better" or "more pure" than another generation. There are parts of today's game that are better than Beckert's time, and some less so. It would be nice if some time off would ease the rhetoric, but it's unlikely. Sadly, fans seem to aggressively prioritize their era over others, and it hurts the game's fabric. Enjoy Beckert, Sandberg, and Baez, but don't belittle those with a different pecking order.