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I know I shouldn’t, in the middle of so much upheaval, but: I miss baseball

I Am Wide Awake

It has been a few months now. I keep reminding myself I am at an age when I should not act like a 10-year-old kid who is bewildered by the fact that there has been no official baseball game yet this season. In my desperate attempt to come to terms with the reality, I hear myself saying, “Get real, look around you, the entire world as we know is falling apart and all you’re thinking is, baseball?”

But I feel my heart is in a state of rebellion against my own logical thinking. Like a man blinded by his own dreams and fantasies, I am trying to deny the reality, hoping in vain to be magically transported to a world where little boys and girls head to the ballparks with their grandpas, grandmas, dads, moms, aunts or uncles as they cheer for their heroes while munching on hot dogs and Cracker Jack. 

I fantasize about that moment when the bases will be loaded and Babe Ruth will be in the batter’s box to add to his historic records. After all, baseball for me is far more than just another sports game. It has a soul, history, mythology and folklore. As Robert Frost contemplated: “Poets are like baseball pitchers.” Each pitch represents the mental, physical and subconscious universe of the pitcher who expresses his/her emotions through a melody of words. Whoever thought we’d have so much of the summer without watching runners on base (some caught stealing) and the hypnotizing home runs which, forgive my very much-exaggerated vision, the ball gets hit by the bat, climbs through the atmosphere, passes by the moon, the planets, rises to the Milky Way and comes back to Earth to be caught by a spectator’s glove as a divine object to be savored for the generations to come?

Unfortunately, neither my imagination nor my fantasies are coming even close to assuring me that the current reality will somehow vanish and that that pastoral and beautiful game of pitches and hitters will take place as the sun will begin her romantic flirtations from behind the clouds. 

Yet, even though I am trying my best to somehow ignore the recent events and pursue my fantasies, the harsh and unpredictable reality which we all are facing appears to be inescapable. After all, things are bad. The coronavirus pandemic is causing havoc in thousands of people’s lives. And after all these months there’s still no vaccine available to make us believe that this extremely aggressive and unpredictable virus will be cured.

Then, there are the protests against police brutality, which have gained instant momentum after the video clip of a white policeman placing his knee on the neck of an African American long enough to cause his death. The riots have gained such momentum that has extended through cities and towns all around the country, even finding allegiance from sympathizers around the world, including Italy, France and other countries. What is incredibly unique is that Black Americans were not the only protestors. They have been joined by diverse protestors, including Whites, Native Americans and Latinos, hence defining a whole new perspective of hundreds of years of unresolved issues of racial inequality, racism, bigotry and discrimination. 

Interestingly, the current movement of protests made me see that even my beloved baseball had a role in participating in the ongoing discrimination and rejection of the Black population, and this particular case, against Black baseball players who, frustrated by rejection, had created their own: The Negro League.

It was a rude awakening for me to realize that baseball was not any different from any American institution, which treated Blacks as if they were not worthy enough to be accepted as their equals. It took hundreds of years for Moses Fleetwood Walker to become the first baseball player in the Major League, followed by Jackie Robinson. Yet even this historical and monumental event did not halt the attitude of the white players and managers toward people of color. Baseball, which I had been idealizing all my life, was not any different from any organization in American society operating for profit as a prime objective and where discrimination was the norm. 

But again, with all its  harshness and cruelty, I still find in baseball a sense of innocence, a naivete, an old-time goodness that we all need, especially at these extremely challenging times.

And that’s exactly why I do miss baseball and can’t wait for the games to begin.

 

Varoujan Froundjian is a graphic designer, Photoshop artist, writer, cartoonist, information technology and wine expert. He can be reached at varoujanfroundjian@gmail.com.

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