Baseball Leads Again

Baseball Leads Again

Pardon the pun here but it seems to me that baseball has always been a little ahead of the curve when it comes to social reform.

During World War II baseball followed the lead of the rest of America, sending some of its biggest stars into the various armed services and in some cases into combat. The list is long and impressive. Ted Williams was a willing fighter pilot, Yogi Berra volunteered to be part of the invasion of Normandy, Hank Greenberg, Joe Dimaggio, Stan Musial and dozens of others volunteered to serve their country.

A few years later in the spring of 1947 baseball led the way for America when  Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues, thanks to a partnership with Brooklyn Dodger’s General Manager Branch Rickey. It took the country 17 more years to enact Civil Rights legislation under the Lyndon Johnson presidency.

Fast forward to 2017 and the World Baseball Championships. Big league players from every team in both leagues are playing for their home countries in this most patriotic tribute to what was once called, “The National Pastime.”  Baseball may not be first in the hearts of ‘Americans anymore with the growth of the National Football League but it still leads the way as far as social awareness is concerned.

While many in our country including our new president preach daily about “America First,” and spread the fears of globalization, baseball leads by example.  Players like Mariner pitcher Felix Hernandez who’ll pitch for Venezuela for the next two weeks and Seattle Mariner teammates Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura who’ll play for the Dominican Republic can still love America while playing baseball for their countries of origin for two weeks.

Baseball is the best example of what mankind can be if you really think about it. In baseball once a man is on first base, a teammate may be asked by his coach to “sacrifice bunt,” allowing the runner to advance to second base.  Who can imagine giving up their own freedom or in this case “at bat” to allow a teammate to succeed?  That’s what you do in baseball.  If we did more of this in America we truly would be “great again.”

So while some in this country and many around the world are rejecting what is called globalization for what is called nationalism I’m suggesting that we embrace both. Why can’t one be proud of his own country while still respecting the rest of the world? That leads to peace, which I’m sure to many is a sign of weakness.

The alternative is to spread fear and hatred from our borders outward building walls real and imagined between us and the rest of the world. That leads to mistrust, ignorance, fear and a false sense of pride and all that leads to war. Do we really want more war? Have we not learned anything from history?

Time to look at baseball as the leader it is. Time to see it as a glowing example of what’s right in America. Any activity that calls for all participants to work for and with one another towards a common goal is an activity worth cheering for.

Baseball is ahead of the curve which seems rather poetic since one who can’t catch up to a curve will not succeed in baseball or in life.