It can be said that baseball season represents a form of salvation for the American public and that the pastime brings our nation together during the long, hot summers that engulf us from coast to coast. Over the last few days I have taken the opportunity to re-watch the first six chapters of the legendary Ken Burns baseball documentary, an exercise that has helped remind me about how important baseball is to our history and to our people.
More specifically, I have been thinking about how it has been a full 73 years since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authored the famous “Green Light Letter,” arguing that the shuttering of professional baseball during World War II would be a detriment to the nation and her psychological well-being.
In a letter to Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, commissioner of baseball, FDR argued that the forfeiture of the baseball season would deprive the war-weary public of a much-needed outlet for relief, relaxation, and rejuvenation. In Roosevelt’s words, the public “ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before” and that the continuation of the season was a necessity for the American people. To this day, professional baseball helps unite the nation in the time of the year that most likely involves some rest and relaxation while inspiring us to remember our own history as Americans. No matter what others say, I am convinced that baseball is the most beautiful game.
As always, I offer my predictions for the upcoming season. However, I wouldn’t dare do so without my favorite Studs Terkel story on the eve of Opening Day.
Back in the era just before and after World War II baseball was the most popular thing in America. Most big cities—which happened to have major league clubs—were full of immigrant families and people of all walks of life who were obsessed with baseball. There was once an Irishman who was such an obsessed baseball fan that the game was all he would discuss with his friends. Eventually, one of his friends told him that his fixation had gone too far.
To prove his point, the friend asked the baseball-loving Irishman to imagine that he was out for a boat ride with his father and Ted Williams. All of a sudden, the boat sprung a leak and started sinking. Discovering that there was only one life