Despite the attack on the public interest by privatization and sequestering, and a lack of caring for the neediest in our society and a declining middle class, we have spring and the beginning of unlimited possibilities once again. Flowers are poking through the thawing ground; spring fever is all around us and we all hope for love and a win on opening day.
It is appropriate that I am writing from Washington, D.C., the home of a dysfunctional corporation known as the United States of America. But, D.C. is also the home of the National League East Champion Washington Nationals. The city that is not a city and is not a state and once had the reputation of the home of the worst team in baseball, the Washington Senators. Today is different. Hope is in the air as we just celebrated Easter and Passover. Every baseball player and fan lives in the field of dreams during the month of April.
In the 50s, there was a growing number of Black and Latino players in baseball. And baseball was always big in Latino communities and countries. While Jackie Robinson was the first Black major league baseball player in 1947, Latino players came into what became the major leagues much earlier in 1911. Baseball came to Cuba in 1864 and Venezuela and Nicaragua not long after.
There was a rumor which grew in the 60s that when Fidel Castro came to America ten years earlier to get support for the Cuban Revolution, he also got a tryout with the Washington Senators. While this was not true, it makes for a great baseball story and he was a college pitcher who had some communications with the Cincinnati Reds in the 1940s Television was just coming into many of our households in the 1950s. We mostly listened to baseball games on the radio. My father and my brothers gathered around the radio console in the dining room to listen to the hapless Philadelphia Phillies, the team that has lost the most games in baseball history. The Phillies always disappointed and in 1964 we experienced the ultimate collapse. Our boys were ahead by six games after the first week of September. They lost and they lost and they lost and the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League Pennant. It was heartbreaking! But, the Phillies finally went all the way and won the World Series in 1980 and again in 2008. If you believe, and wait long enough, dreams will turn into hopes and hopes will become reality.
Sometimes, you need to take actions that will help create a different reality. In the 1958 movie Damn Yankees, while the manager sings “you gotta have heart,” a frustrated old Washington Senator’s fan make a pact with the devil to become an amazing baseball player who can take the Senators from the cellar to first place. The actions we choose to take are equal to our desire to bring about change. Such is true in our communities as well as baseball. This is the time of the year when we begin anew! “If you build it, they will come.”