“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... People will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” — Terence Mann, “Field of Dreams.”
Baseball will save us.
America’s pastime has survived the test of time. World wars and other major international conflicts have come and gone. The game has survived pandemics, including the Spanish Influenza, and the Great Depression.
It’s been one of the constants through other trials and tribulations. Baseball helped to integrate the country before the Civil Rights movement. It tied us together during times of strife and turmoil.
Baseball might not be the sport of the younger, hipper crowd. The game hasn’t fundamentally changed in many years. The last big rules switch was the designated hitter for the American League.
It’s not as action-packed as other sports. We don’t have great scoring numbers. In many parts of the world, it’s not even followed with its distant cousin, cricket, being the ball-and-bat sport of choice.
But baseball is a survivor.
And it will bring back a sense of normalcy in our new challenge.
Now, COVID-19 stands in the way. The latest pandemic is a hurdle, but one the game should be able to, if history is any indication.
At some point, Major League Baseball will return. Only labor issues, and certain major disasters (such as the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, which halted the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s for 10 days) have stopped the game.
In more recent times, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, briefly halted the game.
But baseball has come back.
On a more local level, it might require more time for the game to heal.
Most area youth leagues have called off their official seasons. At the time of organization and final registration, things were just too unknown about the local future of the pandemic. In the end, the concerns outweighed the benefits.
Some could come up with something abbreviated later in the summer, should things improve.
The real kicker was the Missouri American Legion season being called off. I don’t think anyone can begrudge the state department for making the decision. Missouri’s baseball folks held off as long as they could before calling the season.
It’s likely that nothing would have started until June at the earliest, and some fields might not have been available.
In the end, liability issues made the final decision. The risk of somebody being infected at a game outweighed any benefits of having the season.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said at his 1933 inauguration, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Unfortunately, the unknown is enough fear to cancel most local organized leagues.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Some organizations are pushing forward. Washington Post 218 plans to field teams, just not under American Legion sanction, to play games and tournaments.
Several organizations have already pledged to participate in what’s being called the COVID League.
It’s possible that high schools could play games in many sports during the summer, once things are deemed “safe.”
MSHSAA relaxed its summer rules and is recognizing current seniors through the summer. There’s still a chance they might suit up for one final time before heading to college.
Yes, these are trying times. But baseball, the one constant, will help us return to a sense of normality.