In January, 1942, a little more than a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt wrote to Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball – the team sport which then dwarfed all others in terms of public support – and indicated that if the Judge wished, baseball should continue despite the war. The President wrote:
“I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going…. [U.S. citizens] ought to have a chance for recreation …. [Baseball players for whatever reason not able to serve the war effort] are a definite recreational asset to … [millions] of their fellow citizens – and that in my judgement is thoroughly worthwhile.”
An abbreviated MLB season opened a few days ago, to the completely understandable delight of millions. I appreciate the point that Mr. Roosevelt was making 78 years ago, but for me, baseball’s relaxed pace and old world allure will need to wait a bit. I don’t begrudge — indeed, I envy – those for whom the game provides a distraction in these times of political, health, and social crisis. Perhaps, if the National Football League plays games this fall, I will be able to immerse myself in the short, intense once-a-week 3-hour distraction of the Sunday football rite ;). As for baseball … hopefully, by next spring, the Coronavirus will no longer be raging, we will have put the blight of the Trump presidency behind us, and I can return to the languid charm of the game I love best. So I’m hesitantly anticipating the prospect of the first pitch of Opening Day … in spring, 2021. Hopefully, for me, it’ll then be time … to Play Ball.