Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tucker Fredrickson: You Keep Me Hangin' On

The closest thing football had to the collapse of the New York Yankees in the 1960s was the collapse of the New York Giants. Both teams got old in a hurry, and fat and complacent in the front office, and both teams wrongly assumed that their youngsters would pick up where the old greats had left off. But Steve Whitaker was no Mickey Mantle. Jake Gibbs was no Yogi Berra. Bookie Bolin was no Roosevelt Taylor. Ed Weisacosky was no Sam Huff. Gary Wood was no Y.A. Tittle. Joe Don Looney was no Alex Webster. And Tucker Frederickson was definitely no Frank Gifford.

Frederickson might have been Frank Gifford. He was the Giants' first-round draft pick in 1965, and celebrated the occasion, as he celebrated every major event in his pro career, by injuring his knee. Frederickson annually led the league in knee injuries, though Tommy Nobis would usually put up a good fight for the title. Tucker got cut on and sewed up and cleaned out and sewed up again and opened up and sewed up again, until by the end of his career he was moving as fast as a Vanilla Fudge song. When the Yankees dived in 1966 and the Giants fell to 1-12-1, Yankee Stadium was like a tomb, and all the spoiled fans of the two teams were plunged into silence. And I, for one, thought it was keen.

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