This issue's contents Current issue Index Search
“FROM SEA TO SHINY SEA’’
In this rather vast space between rather large oceans east and west and rather large numbers of people both north and south, we have fashioned the most consequential social and political entity ever in all of human history. We, of course, have made many mistakes too, but the trend has certainly been very positive here for most of humanity, who constantly vote to live here with their bodily selves, legally or illegally, to be citizens or only hopeful illegal alien residents. Because, as in the past, of our evidently somewhat oblique but unrelentingly upward political path of freedom and opportunity that seems inevitably in place rewarding sincere and persistent effort. However, there have been several dubious glitches too, as in the several drought full years of victory on the football and/or baseball fields of several of our local teams. Not really the almost ever prosperous New York Yankees. But also the joy and sorrow of the our Giants and Dodgers, all within a few miles of each other, but still sharing a baseball market of about 20 million people
At that some what dubious time, in the late nineteen seventies, several wealthy but despairing fans had a pilot fly over the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan one Sunday afternoon with this grim and angry trailing message----15 YEARS OF LAUSY GIANT FOOTBALL HAS GOT TO GO….! Or, as a growing legend also perhaps some times inverts a classic scene, the heroic pilot up in his frail monoplane against a strong headwind towing his vitriolic message of 15 years of inept and no football championships, was already more than enough!! This was also similar in the totally dissimilar sport of baseball. And in the somewhat earlier era of the nineteen thirties. Then a shrewd and mostly successful player and manager for the baseball New York Giants, Bill Terry, in the National League, made the sarcastic remark about their arch rivals in that league. “The Brooklyn Dodgers? Are they still in the league?” They certainly were and proved it later that same year by beating the Giants in certain crucial late season games that kept the Giants from winning the pennant that self same year. However, I have several prideful memories of those most early, innocent years. In l934, In only the second year of the All Star game, I heard via that relatively new technology marvel known as the radio, that Carl Hubbell of the National League baseball Giants totally confused the best hitters in baseball---on the American League team--- with his screwball pitch which he contrived to break the “wrong way” and confuse the hitter. Hubbell in his three inning stint on the mound struck out consecutively Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. All, the class hitters of the American League in the mid nineteen thirties. And all in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Also, in those early adolescent years of mine, was the trade of “Lippy” Leo Durocher from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the baseball New York Giants in July of l948. This is years after much invective hurled at one another by these baseball stalwarts, and their loyal fans, impugning besides their sheer baseball ineptitude but also other important aspects of respectable citizenhood. It indeed shocked the world including an already youthful typically growing anti establishment attitude. (Including yours truly!) ) I remembered the start of World War II, in September of 1939 where the two “arch enemies” Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany divided poor Poland, which lay ineptly between the Soviets and the Hitler German Nazis. Russia then declared war on Germany, but of course stopped at the newly wrought half of Poland their secret treaty with Nazi Germany had produced! Ten years later there seemed to be an analogy haunting me about selling out ardent baffled Giant and Dodger fans with that arch traitor, Leo Durocher, the Manager of the Brooklyn Dodger team. But “Lippy Leo” went on to win many baseball games with the Giants and several other baseball teams, entitling him to Baseball Hall of Fame status, a year’s banishment by the league for suspected gambling, and the hand in marriage of lovely Laraine Day, ”heroine” of the Dr. Kildaire movie series, who with Lionel Barrymore as Dr. Gillespie always kept Kildaire on the straight and incorruptible path despite many inevitable pitfalls and temptations. I was disappointed, however, that in real life Leo and Laraine divorced after only four years of marriage. And his supposed sneering remark that “nice guys always finish last”! would make me smile somewhat ashamedly, for definitely I have aimed much higher. (I hope!)
But when we were young and eager east coast adolescents and young adults physically, mentally, the farther boundaries of our great country seemed ever to be eluding us as the West Coast ,Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, etc. demanded that we determined easterners stay up three hours more to get the latest football and baseball news from the thriving and expanding western frontier. The Mississippi River was no longer our limiting border. St. Louis was not now our western frontier. The Pacific Ocean, perhaps, but only somewhat! But we actually did go from ‘Sea to shining sea’, as in that great patriotic song “America, America”. We actually made real our grandiose concept of a United States from coast to coast. And even far beyond in the nascent new blogosphere. For that grandiose football sport finale world wide in early February of next year, Sunday late afternoon and evening---the SUPERBOWL---occurs and has worldwide attention. It is estimated that 110 million people will watch on the first Sunday in February 2014. Not only from the confines of our continental borders and TV but from some of our more remote adventuresome new “blogospherites”. Perhaps now is the time to realize and evaluate the importance of our most powerful vicarious entities—baseball and football---into our emotional, and psychological mystiques. They are two most diverse entities, and at the moment football seems to be dire danger of loss of esteem because of the growing recognition of brain damage due to continual and constant cranial concussions in tackling the opposing ball carrier. Almost as if a speeding car is hitting a brick wall. Indeed, in the very current New York Times pages of the last few days, one on the very first page today, are stories detailing the angst and woe of past National League Football players and the $765 million settlement to over 4500 retired players for the minimizing of their trauma injuries mainly due to cranial concussion in organized NFL play. Also the Times in several other interviews carries reports of several other players disavowing football ever as a career course for their children. The NFL, in their somewhat generous financial settlement, still disavows football as the prime cause of these concussion injuries, blaming improper tackling technique as the problem.
As a very proud great grandfather (ten times and still counting!) I am most happy with their great disinterest in playing football. And accept the more placid game of baseball as our National Pastime and the home run with the bases loaded, as the peak of my somewhat dull and not so sublime baseball sports pinnacle of joy. But one must pay very close attention--- for a foul ball may come whizzing by and you may not have brought a baseball glove to catch it!
And if the Giants make it to the football playoffs this time, I confess, I will still most probably be glued to the TV. Comfortably in an armchair and not anywhere out in the blogosphere or whatever! And, of course, impervious to being tackled above or below the waist and also having that extra long halftime show for some nourishing refreshment! Lovingly, and dutifuly served by my caring wife, who knew that this obsession would soon be over, at least until next February!