“Baseball is a lot like life. It´s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.” – Ernie Harwell
One can remember right after 9/11 the state that America was in. The unforeseen images of “Ground Zero” made the nation wonder if it would ever bounce back from this mentally and physically challenging time.
America did, thanks to baseball.
The New York Yankees and New York Mets took the lead in helping the city heal; helping the city pick up the pieces to a future of uncertain. The Mets helped heal the mind and soul by doing small things in big ways. Just to say “thanks” they wore the hats of each respected agency that helped during 9/11: PAPD, NYPD, FDNY, etc. And, to the rescue personnel that is what mattered most – a simple “thank you” in a small way brings healing to the mind. Also, the images of former manager Bobby Valentine and other members of the 2001 Mets helping load supplies on trucks headed for “Ground Zero,” didn´t go unnoticed. The extending of the hand to help, by the baseball community, solidified that baseball helps lift a nation to new spirits in a time of need.
For the Yankees, the 2001 World Series was most memorable. Seven weeks after the terrorist attacks, baseball was played. It lifted the minds. It lifted the spirits. It lifted the fatigued. It lifted life.
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
Also, Bob Feller said it best on the correlation of life and baseball:
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday´s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That´s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that´s the way baseball is.”
But, it´s also the umpire yelling, “play ball” and the crisp sound of the crack of the bat that brought America to heal. Baseball is a game, but it does shape America and is an important part of our heritage. At Yankee Stadium, the loudness of “God Bless America” cannot go unheard. It signifies that baseball remembers the lives lost and sacrificed during 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. It´s the little emblem, though, that´s worn on the hats of all the ballplayers during America´s remembrance of independence. It´s the American flag that signifies our nation as one.
Baseball also helped during Hurricane Katrina, by having all the teams wear the American Red Cross emblem on its helmets, to show New Orleans that baseball cares and wants to see the city be rebuilt bigger and better than ever.
“I see great things in baseball. It´s our game – the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.” – Walt Whitman
This is why baseball is such an important factor in everyday life. When a nation or individual is down, it´s the game that lifts the spirits and heals the mind. It´s the game that helped create and establish America. From Little League fields to Major League ballparks, baseball is the National Pastime. Americans embrace baseball because it symbolizes peace and tranquility. Before each game, it´s the fresh cut grass, the laying of the lines and the throwing of the first pitch that makes baseball the game it is.
That´s why it´s America´s Pastime.