So somebody came up with evidence of a ballplayer other than Alex Rodriguez running across the mound during a game.
The Fleer Sticker Project dug into the telecast of Game 1 of the 1971 World Series between the Pirates and Orioles, and found Baltimore outfielder Don Buford—who’d just been thrown out at first—returning to the home clubhouse on the third-base side by way of the pitcher’s mound.
Pittsburgh’s pitcher was Dock Ellis, who was known to go to extremes (such as setting out to drill every batter he faced in a 1974 game against Cincinnati) to prove a point, but who never crowed particularly loudly about respect on the ballfield. (Heck, the guy wore curlers on the field despite widespread derision, simply because his straightened follicles provided a better means to harvest sweat when he wanted to load up a baseball.)
A-Rod defenders point to this as proof that their guy was hardly the first to do such a thing, but they’re essentially shooting themselves in the foot.
It was already clear that Rodriguez isn’t alone in this particular proclivity; this blog has already listed A.J. Pierzynski as another player who makes a habit of the act.
But the fact that one has to go back to 1971 to find photographic evidence of somebody doing it says more about the irregularity with which this sort of thing happens than any number of essays decrying Rodriguez’s audacity.