Monday, July 16, 2012

Barnstorming with a Purpose

Do yourself a big favor and watch this brief video of the Anderson Monarchs.

Now that's a summer vacation that the group will remember forever.  Reminds me of the book I read regarding the Rashi Rams entitled Third Base for Life. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fans Need to Self Police

Headlines of vile speech (65 years after Jackie Robinson broke in with the Dodgers) continue to shock.
We just completed celebrating the 4th of July.  The Declaration of Independence states, in part, that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and John Lackey et al. have been endowed with special skills to which our society has assigned an inordinate value.  One can certainly question whether we have gone over the top in paying such astronomical sums to professional athletes and entertainers.  (By way of comparison in 1967 the entire 25 man roster of the pennant winning Boston Red Sox was paid less than $500,000 -- about the current major league minimum for one MLB player).  And when these players receive such incredible amounts (Bobby Jenks received $12 million and pitched a total of 15+ innings for the Red Sox) fans (and ownership) should expect an effort both on and off the field that is commensurate with the remuneration.  If the effort as measured by the results is woefully inadequate (push yourself away from those chicken wings in the clubhouse guys), then fans are within bounds to express their displeasure.  

So cheer for your favorite or voice your displeasure when you are so moved.  But please, do so in recognition of the fact that each one of us is entitled to be judged by our performance and by how we comport ourselves in pursuing our chosen craft.  And no one has license to contaminate the field with invective.  One can only hope that fans take it upon themselves to police the intolerant and ignorant among us so that headlines of this sort can truly become historical references.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On this Father's Day

Growing up, Mickey Mantle was the baseball star who captivated my interest. I'd read everything I could about the Commerce Comet.  I learned that Mick's Dad named him after HOF'er Mickey Cochrane; that after working in the mines, Mantle's father would come home and practice making Mickey into a switch hitter; and that Mantle thought he was doomed to an early grave since both his father and grandfather died before they were 40 years old.  It wasn't until I became a father myself that I understood you didn't have to hit 500 foot home runs to be a hero. 

In 2001, my parents reached their 50th wedding anniversary.  At a family gathering to celebrate that occasion, I told my Father that he (and not Mickey Mantle) was my hero.  Due to the state of his health, I'm not sure that my Dad fully understood what I was trying to convey.  I miss him a lot and think about the lessons he taught me.  Not in the "you better eat your vegetables" kind of way, but in the manner in which he conducted himself: modest, unassuming, cordial and respectful to those with whom he interacted.   

Over the past couple of months, I have read two books of non-fiction that are about Fathers and Sons and baseball.  The first one was recommended to me by my Mother.  It's entitled: "Third Base For Life" and recounts the experiences of a father and son who assemble a team of athletically challenged 10 year olds.  They enter a tournament in Cooperstown New York to play against the best little leaguers from around the country.  It is a WONDERFUL book about much more than baseball.  I couldn't put it down on a flight to Atlanta.  It was that good -- indeed powerful.  As the plane descended through a turbulent landing approach, I felt that as long as I was reading the story, I would be comforted in the bonds that were detailed in the story.  The second book (a birthday present I received from a dear friend) is entitled: "Trading Manny" about a father and son who share a passion for baseball only to be undercut by the steroid era.  I'm still processing the take aways from that one.

As you can surmise, I am one who believes that shared experiences derived from baseball can provide a context for establishing long lasting ties between parents and their offspring (I won't go into what happened between the 6th and 7th games of the 1986 World Series when Mookie snaked that ball down the first base line).  And I have also learned that the experiences I no longer can share with my Father make me appreciate, learn from and love him even more.