Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

As you may know, I follow baseball. This weekend, television and radio announcers marked Memorial day by chatting about major leaguers who served in the US military -- Ted Williams and such.

They overlooked the service of Negro League players, however.

Leon Day was born in Alexandria, VA on October 30, 1916. According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, "he spent two years pitching on integrated Army teams during WWII and on his first game back with the Eagles on 1946, tossed a no hitter against the Philadelphia Stars."

His plaque at Cooperstown reads: "“Used deceptive no wind up short arm delivery to compile impressive single season and career statistics during ten years in Negro Leagues. Also played ball in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and Canada. Set Negro National League record in 1942 with 18 K’s in a game. Hurled no hitter on opening day 1946 for Newark Eagles vs. Philadephia Stars. Pitched in a record 7 Negro League All-Star Games."

As with almost all of the Negro League players in the Baseball Hall of Fame, no statistics are reported for Leon Day. Negro Leagues baseball was less regularized than major league ball, but as integration ultimately demonstrated, Negro League players were no less talented than white players.

Jackie Robinson also served in the military during World War II. He did not serve overseas, however, because at the time his unit was deployed he was in the midst of being court martialled by the Army. His offense? Challenging the military police officers who questioned and arrested him when he refused to move to the back of a bus. He was acquitted by an all-white jury of nine officers.

True story.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Field Trip Day!

Day game in Baltimore. Hoards of kids -- we nicknamed it "field trip day" only to discover -- a bit later -- that it really was field trip day! About 25 schools sent kids. They were everywhere, and I wouldn't be surprised if the adult to kid ratio in the park was something less than 1:3.

As I waited in line for hot dogs, a ten-year old girl slipped in front of me. I let it go. A few minutes later (it was a long line), another girl popped in. I rolled my eyes. Then another, and I asked loudly but to no one in particular: "Why do people keep cutting in front me?" The girl sputtered and then said: "I'm with her." "Well," I said, "she cut in front of me too."

Then their teacher intervened, sending them all to the back of the line. I laughed with her as I left with my dogs: I don't think it occurs to kids that not everyone is in their "group"!

As for the game: Grand slam in the bottom of the eighth! Throw from the left-fielder to make the last out at home in the top of the ninth! Home team wins, snatching victory (6-5) from the jaws of defeat (down by four in the bottom of the eighth)!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The four stages of my sabbatical

No, not denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance.

First, WOO-HOO! What to do with all the free time?

Second, buying lottery tickets in the dim hope that free time could be my long-term future.

Third, a tiny bit of bored and lonely, which led smoothly to...

Fourth, working like a fiend and, for the first time in years, it doesn't even feel like work.

I think the sabbatical worked.