I wasn’t a baseball kid. I wasn’t just not a baseball kid, I was anti baseball. It seemed to me to get so much credit for so little. Firstly, it was painfully slow to a kid with boundless energy. How could it be considered a sport when well over 90% of the time one was tasked with either standing still, walking or even sitting. Secondly, the ball was hard. Like really hard, and people threw it at you. Thirdly, it was filled with guys that looked ordinary. Basketball had Kareem and Magic and baseball had fat guys that pitched once every four games, sitting out the 3 in between. Nowadays it’s every 5 games. The Mets even experimented with a 6-man rotation this year! Finally, it presented itself as preeminent. It was self-evident that as the natinal pastime that it was the ‘best’ sport. It wasn’t, not for me.
It even tried to boast about it’s groundbreaking nature and it’s role in social justice in regard to the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson. Are you kidding me! You have a ‘gentlemen’s’ agreement to ban black ball players for over 50 years and then one gets through, enduring the hateful bile of a fan base you created to be racist and you, baseball, get to take credit for the ‘transformation’ to an ‘integrated game.’ At least that’s what it seemed like to me.
As far as I was concerned baseball as an entity, Major League Baseball, should treat April 15th as a day of atonement. It was your institution, the league, the business that chose to enact and enforce unwritten rules to ban most non-whites and all black people. For more then half a century. Now you celebrate the annversary of the day as if MLB is part of the accomplishment while the only role it played was grudgingly resisting but ultimately allowing a brave man to better baseball’s station at the cost of near constant abuse. Well done, baseball. Take a bow.
To hear others speak of it when I was a kid, people who were around for it, black and white people, it’s as if it were the greatest accomplishment of the Amercian century. By far the most important moment in sports in our history. Which just didn’t resonate with me. I’d shrug it off and think, what the hell took you idiot’s so damn long.
Fast forward to June 26th, 2015. Sitting in my office I got an alert on my phone that tthe Supreme Court had ruled that Marriage equality was now the law of the land. Gay people now had the right to marry in all fifty states. I was and am elated. In my life we’ve gone from vilifying gay people, referring to ‘gay cancer’ as if HIV and AIDS were nature’s punishment, God’s judgment, legally classifying their love as illegal, because somehow we thought it was immoral. Being gay was classified as a mental illness until fairly recently. It’s silly. I should still realize that this was always absurd and that it was prejudice and stupidiity that made us such a backward society in regard to this subject for so long. But now I have context and I know that my country that has given me so many reasons to be proud and so many reasons to be disheartened and upset still has the capaciity to change, to evolve, to make steps toward perfect. That, as much as the genuine joy and appreciation and admiration and excitement was what I felt. It makes me feel very patriotic.
Now, all that’s left is for me to celebrate this day in the future, to share with my kids the amazing and indescribable feelings of the day I lived through when America changed for the better as a result of the tireless efforts of common citizens displaying uncommon courage for decades, expressing their beliefs, asserting their truth, enduring unfairnesses and abuses, never giving up and ultimately creating a better world for those to come. And when they don’t get it, when they don’t understand why it was such a big deal and why it took us so damn long to do the right thing I won’t have a good answer for them. I’ll be proud of a thing they won’t understand. I hope that acceptance will be the norm in their lives. I’ll be proud of them and of us. I’ll be happy that they will grow up in a world where at least legally, hopefully, we’ve put this behind us.