9/11/2001 - 9/11/2011: The Link Between American History and Baseball


We all remember where we were and the images of that day will remain etched in our minds forever.  I'm not sure if we will ever be completely healed from the effects of that day but we have certainly moved forward.  Today, I think that it's fitting to take a look at how baseball has walked stride for stride with the defining moments in our country throughout history and to recognize the importance of this date as we continue to rebuild and move forward.

What makes baseball so special is the history behind the game and what it has always meant to our country.  Baseball is America's pasttime- it gives us something to cheer for, a home team to root for and an escape from the challenges going on around us.

During the Great Depression, baseball struggled, like America, and there were questions as to whether baseball would survive.  But rather than shutting gates, owners reduced ticket prices, players took reduced salaries and franchises grinded through it despite suffering losses.  Resiliency and hard work defined the players of this era and some of the greatest players in baseball history not only played during this dark time but were also born during these years.  I picture many players like Ted Williams and Bob Feller playing stick ball as children - doing anything they could to get away from the struggles at home.  Like many children growing up today emulating the play of Derek Jeter and Roy Halladay, those players aspired to be the next Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig but while our kids today might be motivated by fancy cars and big paychecks, the motivation of the Feller's and Williams' was probably to get away from the struggles of life.

It is clear that, through that difficult period, Baseball and America continued to walk stride for stride.  Fates turned in the late 1940's and things were seemingly improving but the struggles became more serious with the events surrounding Pearl Harbor and World War II.

During World War II, there were so many great players that lost prime years to war and the level of play was somewhat diminishe, and yet, baseball continued.  The players that stayed behind did their best to provide something worth rooting for, keeping baseball afloat until our heroes could return.  After the triumphant end to WW2, baseball flourished unlike any other time in history - our patriotism and spirit renewed. 

The next twenty years of baseball were special and the Heartbeat of America was stronger than ever but as we moved forward beyond those expansive years, we slowly lost some of the character that had made baseball and America so special.  Baseball slowly became a business rather than a National identifier.  The sense of responsibilty that came with playing nine innings of America's game faded and was replaced with a sense of entitlment.  There were some great players and teams during this time (some of the best in history) but eventually the level of play diminished along with it to the point where baseball seemed to be dying in the early 90's (the strike of '94 a clear indication of that).  

So maybe it took a while but baseball became stale much like our spirit the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that once made America the land of opportunities.  Honestly, I think that we were a bit spoiled and clearly naive.  While profits and salaries grew, the powers that be were happy to ride the gravy train.  In baseball, the game was watered down and needed heroes.  In business, bottom lines motivated all.  Unfortunately, for baseball, those heroes came at the expense of the integrity of the game and for America, the bottom line motivation lent itself to greed and manipulation.  While the game turned to Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa to provide a spark, the general population was turning to Enron, the dot-com boom and the stock market bubble to generate prosperity.  Bottom lines and immediate gratification had completely replaced hard work and perseverance.

And this is where the 9/11 story begins. 

As much as it pains me to say this, we needed a 9/11.  We needed to be reawakened; we needed something to remind us of our identity and baseball is playing an important part in that reawakening.

One of the most vivid memories that I have from 9/11 is from Yankee stadium in the days following 9/11.  As all eyes had turned to Yankee Stadium to see how America's team would honor its fallen heroes, President Bush confidently emerged from the dugout and threw a strike to home plate for the ceremonial first pitch.

He threw a strike.

That pitch, which will never show up in any box score, is undoubtedly the most important pitch in American history.  That pitch emphatically sent a message to all American citizens  that we needed to stand up, be confident and get our mojo back.  It also let the terorists know that we would not be gripped by fear; we would stand tall and fight to preserve our liberties.

Today, ten years later, baseball is flourishing and although things are still a bit shaky outside of the stadiums in our 9 to 5 worlds, our sense of pride and patriotism for this country is as strong as ever.  Our commitment to act responsibly and respectfully is heightened and we are more vigilant to the threats that exists to our liberties.  We are also as confident as ever that we will persevere.  Today is will obviously be a day of rememberance but it should also be a day of celebration.  We must celebrate the lives that were GIVEN to serve a higher cause- the renewal of our American spirit.  Today, across the country, there will be countless tributes and stories told to remember the events that took place on that fateful day ten years ago but more importantly, today 9 innings will be played in cities across the country because that is the most fitting way that America can celebrate its greatest triumph over terrorism, fear and the deliberate attempts to destroy our spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know you can shorten your long urls with Shortest and receive dollars for every click on your short urls.


Copyright © 2012 FOR BASEBALL JUNKIES.