By William Selby,
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
The “Mid-Summer Classic” is once again upon us and it couldn’t come at a better time. Baseball has always had a way of unifying Americans and letting them forget whatever stress or issues they may have at that particular time. In fact, baseball has had a helping hand in both healing and coping with some of the Nation’s most painful moments.
During World War II, ballplayers were drafted or volunteered to serve their country and stopped playing baseball. Personally, I will never forget President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch before game one of the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium, following the September 11 attacks. It seemed like the whole world was watching and that the pitch was symbolism that our President was not afraid of the terrorists and that he would deliver a strike to the heart of those terrorist who attacked us. Both are examples of baseball providing the rest of us the strength and courage needed to move forward in the face of enormous adversity.
So, what does this all have to do with the Major League All-Star game? We thought we would provide our own fictional All-Star team of ballplayers who served our nation honorably. (Editor’s note: I’m pretty sure this All-Star team would crush any other All-Star team in history)
Ahem… in my best stadium announcer’s voice:
Starting at left field and batting 1st, this man served his country for two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Willie Mays.
Batting 2nd and playing third base, he served his time in World War II as a Capt. in the U.S. Army, Ty Cobb.
Batting 3rd and playing right field, a Staff Sgt. in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, Joe Dimagio.
Batting 4th and playing center field, he served as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army during World War II and was also responsible for breaking down racial barriers in 1947, Jackie Robinson.
Batting 5th and playing second base, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Ernie Banks.
Batting 6th and playing first base, he served as a Capt. in the U.S. Army during World War II, Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg.
Batting 7th and playing catcher, he served as a Seaman Second Class in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Yogi Berra.
Batting 8th as a designated hitter, he served as a Naval Aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean War, 2nd Lt. Ted Williams.
Batting 9th and playing shortstop, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Phil Rizzuto.
At starting pitcher, a man who enlisted in the U.S. Navy the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Bob Feller.
Some of these men came back and were never the same after serving in war. The bottom line is they dropped their dream of playing Baseball professionally, something they had worked their whole lives for to serve their country and they weren’t the only ones. There are hundreds more including more major, minor and negro leaguers who signed on when their country called on them. While we may not always think about it, Baseball is ingrained not only in our history as a pastime, but also as a reminder of what it means to be a patriot.
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