This is a screengrab from the 1971 World Series. And will you look at that? A batter runs across the mound, and somehow the world doesn't launch into a spasm of cock-waggling outrage over a breach of baseball's supposedly inviolable unwritten rules.
This comes to us via The Fleer Sticker Project's entertaining rundown of the '71 Pirates-Orioles World Series. At some point in Game 1, the Pirates' Dock Ellis floated down to Earth long enough to throw out Don Buford at first. Buford, on his way back to the dugout, jogged across Ellis's mound, much as A-Rod did recently to Dallas Braden's mound. You might remember that there was a big to-do over the latter, with Braden accusing A-Rod of Disrespecting The Game in the first degree (and throwing in an aggravated charge of Playing For The Name On The Back Of His Jersey, Not The Front). It was all very silly. Back in 1971, though? Here's what The Fleer Sticker Project says:
There wasn't a single word mentioned about this being an unwritten rule and nobody seemed to take offense to it.
Of course, we're talking about Dock Ellis, and there's a good chance that Dock Ellis saw Buford and thought he was looking at a unicorn. But maybe, in 1971, no one pretended to care about a guy crossing a pitcher's mound, and maybe no one ever really did until the guy crossing the mound was our national sportsmanship object lesson, Alex Rodriguez, and maybe baseball in general was a lot cooler when our pitchers stuffed themselves full of blotter acid and pitched with their heads somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant.
H/T reader Matt D.
1971 World Series Broadcast Highlights [The Fleer Sticker Project]