By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 16, 2009 at 3:10 PM

A discussion on Facebook the other day -- combined with a PBS documentary on Roberto Clemente last night -- got me thinking about how packed full of stars 1970s Major League Baseball was.

Maybe the same is true today, but I don't see it. That could be a function of my age. At 40-something, I enjoy watching baseball, but I don't spend a lot of time obsessing about learning players' names and stats and keeping track of trades. 

But in the '70s, I was a nut. I rabidly collected and traded and flipped baseball cards. I watched Mets games on Channel 9 and we knew who was who. And I could even tell Kiner from Nelson from Murphy. And I knew where Gil Hodges' widow lived (on Bedford Avenue). And I knew the majority of the rosters of the teams.

But I posit -- and I may be wrong -- that it was easier to remember those guys back then.

It was easier, in part, because there were fewer teams, of course, and players tended to stay with teams longer.

But who could forget Luis Tiant and Vida Blue and Al Oliver and Carl Yastrzemski and Buddy Harrelson and Pete Rose and Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Rod Carew and Clemente and on and on and on?

These were guys with memorable names, identifiable quirks and in many cases, crazy-ass afros and mutton chops. And they looked great in the cool uniforms of the first half of the decade. (Let's not talk about what came later ... yes, Pirates, I'm looking you and those ridiculous hats!)

Nowadays it seems most guys are memorable for their salaries or whether or not they were implicated in steroid scandals.

I know I'm not the best person to judge whether or not today's players match up favorably, since like nearly all of us, I've come to realize that the world I remember from my youth is blanketed with the fog of unreliable memory and the haze of nostalgia. 

For a trustworthy answer about today's baseball stars, I've got to ask pre-teens, who a few decades from now, will likely think the players they grew up were cooler than the stars their kids watch play.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.