Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why I Didn't Became A Major League Baseball Player

Besides peaking at age twelve and not having any particular talent beyond my years for throwing, catching, hitting or running…. it’s the scrutiny, stupid. There is no other enterprise where ERRORS are noted on a scoreboard. 

I couldn’t imagine living my working life in a fishbowl called a stadium. Think of your dentist going O for 5 one day or your barber in a slump and the whole country knowing about it. Performers do, at least for their limited audience but a flat note here or missed step there, is pardonable. Even umpires are said to err half a dozen times during a game with impunity. But no occupation labors under greater transparency than athletes and especially baseball players. Every pitch thrown, bat swung and ball caught is noted. There are people who tally such stats. 

Who cares?, you may ask and I shall ignore the question as a spokesman for this alternative universe called sports. I was one of them who cared for a time. Memorizing batting averages and such is an entry into the adult world for many kids and a sure way for first generation children of immigrants to become fully American. If a player goes hitless or makes a game-changing error, thousands of fans think less of him. Conversely, if he goes on a tear his value is raised a notch or two. The numbers are tallied not just for tomorrow’s newspaper, they are indelibly inked into the great ledger in baseball heaven. What was the ratio of walks to strike outs for Joe DiMaggio, I hear you ask. I have the answer in my baseball encyclopedia on one of its 2,780 pages. 

If the man who waters the lettuce in the market misses the Iceberg or overdoes the romaine only he knows. Society even allows a trial lawyer a margin of error when the judge instructs the jury to disregard that last remark. Crimes are expunged from the record but not a shortstops’s bobble; it follows him into his grave and afterlife. 

In this digitalized world of data-collecting Google may know more about me than I do. Our consumer-based society is moving toward the obsessive culture of baseball statisticians. Paradoxically, at the same time, everything non-quantifiable becomes more valuable, even in baseball. Some years ago when Jackie Robinson was receiving death-threats, a teammate, Pee-Wee Reese put his arm around him as they took their positions on the field. The desegregation of the game was assured. Another great player, Roberto Clemente, donated tons of goods for earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He went down with his chartered plane; human moments beyond measure and neither act appears in any record book


  1. Firstly, you wrote " a sure way for first generation children of immigrants to become fully American. " It wasn't only the children. My father, from memory, could tell you the standing of the clubs in the national league albeit there were only 8 clubs back then and he would recite them in German. My mother could tell you what the Yankees did yesterday and the day before and that " Raschi hat gepitched."

    As for a pharmacist making an error vs a professional ball player? What care I if some pharmacist killed someone with an overdose or wrong prescription if it wasn't someone in my immediate family but I have still not forgiven Bill Summers even after 57 years for calling Robinson safe when he was clearly out.

  2. Yes,indeed,long after we've checked out fans will be still be arguing whether Robinson was SAFE or OUT at home plate.I'm glad we have our priorities in order.