Originally Posted by voodoochile
Third, I think some of this issue is perception. I mean we remember all these long lived great pitchers from days of yore because they were great long lived pitchers. You aren't going to remember the hundreds/thousands of guys who were 1-5 season MLB pitchers who blew out an elbow or ended up simply sucking their way out of the league. Thus our perception of how macho/strong/powerful the pitchers back then were because we only know/remember the guys who lasted a long time and pitched well. For every Walter Johnson there are 500 nameless wannabes none of us can name.
That's the same as what you have now, the difference is all of them throw less. Pitchers are still sucking their way of the league and blowing elbows, but now they have effective surgeries to help them comeback. Eighty years from now, god willing, as the theists would say, we'll only remember the Verlanders and Sabathias.
I'd be willing to bet pitchers fifty or more years ago just as often as today would have had 10-15 year careers even without the benefit of modern surgery. Of course, it would be difficult to determine whether a guy in 1920 quit at age 28 due to injuries or whether it was to save the old family farm from those dang Hatchetts or something along those lines.