Nov. 13, 2016
It's More Than Just Baseball
If you've ever uttered the phrase, "There's no crying in baseball!" You understand the connection between baseball and the military. My first understanding of the link was watching the greatest "Chick Flick" of all time, A League of Their Own. If you aren't familiar with this movie, you're probably reading this article from Mars, in which case, you've probably got other things you should probably be taking care of, like growing potatoes in your space tent so you can survive long enough for your friends to come back and save you before you die as the last and only person on Mars. Everyone else, you should have some working knowledge and familiarity with the film.
It is very difficult to separate military and baseball, probably because they are both considered very "American". You know as American as baseball and apple pie. Mmmmm, apple pie. Anyway, I digress. The reason many of us find it easy to connect the two is because of World War II. Some of the greatest baseball players of all time, left the game to serve their country, like Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial. In total, over 500 baseball players enlisted through the draft or voluntarily. It was only from President Roosevelt's insistence that the league even keep playing. It was a source of positive moral for the country in a very dark time. It was during this time that the All American Women's Baseball League was formed. This lead to the amazing movie A League of Their Own, staring Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna as the obvious choices for a baseball movie.
This connection continues today. No, star players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Paul Goldschmidt are not enlisting in the military to fight. The league and its players do tributes to the military throughout the season. The National Anthem is sung at each game. There is almost always a "Salute to Soldiers" during all the games I've attended. There is nothing more touching than when teams set up one of those first pitch opportunities where the kid throws the ball to the catcher who happens to secretly be his/her father they haven't seen in 2 years because they were fighting in Afghanistan.
Baseball and veterans also continue on the field. During World War 2, there were "All-Star" teams put together to entertain the troops and play games overseas to build moral for those soldiers that desperately needed something to take their mind off the horrors of war. In 1990, the military baseball team was revived because of a comment by President George H.W. Bush about how baseball impacted the soldiers during WW2. A barnstorming team was formed and continues to this day.
The U.S. Military All-Stars is a team comprised of active, reserve and veteran military serviceman and first responders. There are thousands of alumni of this team that are unpaid. "HUSTLE, THINK, WIN!" is the motto of those that put on the only camouflage baseball uniforms. They play between 35-60 games each year against pro and semi-pro teams across the country in their Red, White and Blue Tour. The provide direct support to Wounded Warriors, State Department, Department of Defense and Recruiting while conducting over 100-150 appearances. They are using baseball as a way of promoting the service of the great men and women of this country that are willing to sacrifice everything.[The OFFICIAL Website for The US Military Allstars | The OFFICIAL Website for The US Military Allstars]
This country is built upon the millions and millions of stories that each veteran has contributed. The diversity of each of these people is what makes America great. Black or White, Male or Female, Religious or Athiest, Yankees fan or Cubs fan, it doesn't matter in the end, because each of them are fighting for one people, one nation and one team. May we all lay down our weapons of divisiveness and turbulence that we use against our fellow Americans, and thank those who have made our rights, freedoms and baseball possible.