That’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. ~Bill Veeck, 1976
It is still winter but life is beginning to return. Spring training begins today…well early Spring Training for the A’s and Mariners who begin the regular season a week before everyone else in Japan. Among those competing for a spot on the 25 man or 40 man rosters will be my friend Jim Miller, a relief pitcher who was in the Orioles system and who I know from Norfolk. Jim has been a AAA All Star with Norfolk of the International League and last year with Colorado’s AAA affiliate Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League. I certainly want him to do well and would love to see him work his way into the A’s bullpen as the set-up man or closer.
Say what you want about football and the popularity of the NFL I still love the game of baseball. There is something that is so uniquely American about this game which has found its way into the hearts of so many people around the world in ways that the NFL has not. I think that part of it is the sheer beauty of the game. Walt Whitman said in reply to the comment that “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!” “That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! well — it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”
Likewise through peace and war going back before our terrible Civil War baseball has been around. It is a game that has changed little and it is a game that through the years has been part of the fabric of America, through good times and bad, in times of peace and war, prosperity and depression. We have had some difficult times of late but I think baseball something that can help. Bill “Spaceman” Lee said that “Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball, and you straighten out the rest of the world.”
We are at war and other wars threaten around the world. Our political climate is poisonous and though doing better lately the economy still slow and unemployment high. But we have seen tough times before and have gotten through them, though at the moment things seem pretty bleak.
I love the movie Field of Dreams and one of my favorite segments is when James Earl Jones says:
“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”
I believe that still to be the case and though the regular season does not begin for about a month and a half the fact that spring training is beginning is reason to hope.