“It’s simple kids, if you drink and smoke and eat and screw as much as me? Well, kiddos, someday you’ll be just as good at sports!”
There’s something about baseball that resonates with America. Maybe it’s memories of sitting at the ballpark, drinking a beer while scarfing down eight hot dogs after forging a sick note for your third grade teacher. Maybe it’s memories of suspenseful chess matches between evenly matched teams, the thrill of finding your team in the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Maybe it’s your appreciation for the nuances of the “balk” rule. It isn’t that last one.
But more importantly, the players that the sport grew up around were America incarnate. Baseball was a sport where a you could take a man with the name “Mordecai,” chop off two of his fingers, and have him pitch for the Chicago Cubs, and not only would he thrive, he would win two world series and be a hall of famer despite looking like he should work behind the counter at a convenience store in the south.
This is the face of a man who has struck out 1,375 professional sports players.
But really, many of baseball’s greats helped express what was truly American about us. Ted Williams was a patriotic war veteran whose interests included batting .400 and having his head cryogenically frozen. Like America. Rumor has it that Joe DiMaggio married the hottest woman in the world at the time primarily so he could say that he was “Dick cousins” with JFK. Like every American would. Ty Cobb was a horrible racist who once beat up a cripple. Uh, forget that we mentioned that last one.
But what ballplayer was more patriotic than both a deformed Indiana pitcher and a Georgian bigot combined? How about an overeating, alcoholic fat man with a sex problem and a tobacco addiction. No, we’re not talking about the gay love child of Uncle Sam and George Washington, we are of course talking about…
Babe “you’re next, sweetheart” Ruth.