Those were the days.
It’s America’s 244th birthday and in the COVID-19 world, things are a bit different in 2020. There is no baseball being played. Minor League Baseball’s 2020 season was canceled on June 30th. MLB will try to play this year. Pandemic or not, MLB is broken. The owners and players fought over money in negotiations in an attempt to start the season as COVID-19 spread. At one time, The Fourth of July was baseball, apple pie, swimming and fireworks. Baseball was part of the American culture. Casey At The Bat, or Take Me Out to the Ballgame, as Katie Casey told her boyfriend I want to go to the ball game in the song. There was the Babe and the great DiMaggio who was lionized in the Old Man and the Sea classic book by Hemingway. Joe DiMaggio would be revisited in song in Paul Simon’s classic Mrs. Robinson. Baseball players were in vaudeville, in movies, and on radio and TV. In 1954, the French social commentator Jacques Barzun noted “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game – and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.”
There was a countdown to spring training and for certain Americans that was also the countdown to spring and the coming of warm weather and the Fall Classic and the Hot Stove League. Opening Day was an event and it was the boys of summer. Opening Day takes a back seat to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Stanley Cup and the NBA Finals all competitors and NFL July training camps. There was always horse racing, summer golf and tennis tournaments but baseball until the 1960s was always at the top followed by boxing and horse racing. Those days are long gone.