MVP Sports Channel

America Needs Baseball

Hopkinsville, Kentucky recently announced the revival of local baseball in its city.  The Hopkinsville Hoppers are set to open their season on the evening of June 1, 2012 on the road against the Fulton Railroaders.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm CST.Baseball

The Hoppers were the original name of the city’s ball club which began in 1905, and with an occasional short term hiatus, ran through 1954.  The team was affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs and finally, the Philadelphia A’s.  Homage to the team is visible in a mural on the side of a building in the downtown area of Hopkinsville today.

This reincarnation will play as part of the Ohio Valley League, a wooden bat league, with a 40 game season played over June and July.  Admission to games is priced at $5 at the gate or a season pass is an affordable $75.   Family fun, at a price a family can still afford. 

Hopkinsville is a microcosm of the nation.  If America is the Great Melting Pot, Hopkinsville is doing its fair share of smelting.

Fort Campbell military base is only minutes from the city limits and people of every corner of the globe are represented in this growing western Kentucky town.  Many live, worship, work, play, shop and send their children to school together.

Why not cheer together for the same “hometown” team?  The Hoppers gives the community a common denominator worthy of positive conversation during a time when the community welcomes home a large number of soldiers from war, only to continue to fight a domestic war for their families when arriving home to American soil.

With a baseball team to cheer, unity becomes the focus instead of differences.  Who knows, maybe, just maybe, a better place in which to live?Baseball

Today’s America allows us to know more about each other than ever before, but we actually know people less.  Profiles and a veritable wealth of information about our likes, dislikes, interests and documentation of our activities are available on various social media websites for the majority of the U.S. population, but we spend less time getting to know our “friends” and/or neighbors than ever before.  In an era of microwave ovens, faster internet speeds, drive-thru windows, video games, smart phones and instant gratification, America attempts to reinvent the wheel with cyber friends, online “chatting” and virtual sports.

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s favorite pastime was baseball.  The annual ritual of spring turning to summer was marked with dreams of a pennant to indicate a successful summer.  Longer days and warmer temperatures (not to mention, lack of air conditioning) meant baseball fans took breaks during the heat of the day to attend ball parks near them while they enjoyed an iced-cold lemonade, peanuts, hot dogs or popcorn.  By the 1920’s those not near a park sat fanning themselves in the parlor while tuned into the call of the game being emitted by their RCA or Zenith radios.  The magic and feel of “almost being there” radiated from the speaker like the orange glow of light inside the radio’s array of glass vacuum tubes.

A night game in the south was larger than life as the players stood in the spotlight.  The crack of the wooden bats rang through the thick summer night air to delight the crowds which had gathered to celebrate a break from the end of a day at the local factory or tobacco field.

Lately, our country has gotten away from the true love of the game.  America merely has had a fleeting affair with baseball through the years as various records were threatened or broken.  But it was enough to bring us back.

Rickey Henderson’s 1,270 stolen bases, Carl Yastrzemski’s 3,308 games played, The Ironman Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive starts, 4,256 hits by Pete Rose and Hammerin’ Hank Aaron with 755 home runs went beyond marks in the record books.  These became memories by those who witnessed these historic benchmarks and subject of conversations around America’s water coolers used to ease the pain of the Great Depression. They were lived out as real life fantasies by children who embraced the sport, romanticizing and hoping one day they would stand at the plate while enjoying the deafening eruption of the crowd as their record- breaking hit screamed beyond the confines of the perfectly manicured outfield, over the towering wall, into the waiting throngs in the stands; placing them ahead of the legendary names they adored.

Baseball is romanticism.

The luster of baseball has been somewhat tarnished lately, especially in the past two decades with allegations of illegal substance usage.  This is nothing new for baseball.  Its history has been plagued with accusations of conspiracy and gambling.

The romance still lingers, however.  As time marches on, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa become more colorful and fascinating with an asterisk by their names in the baseball history books.

Despite its dark days, baseball has been the reflection of Americana since its inception and synonymous with summer time.  Hot dogs, apple pie and baseball have become almost a cliché for successful advertising campaigns in order to sell Chevrolets, but this imagery seems to be missing in action from today’s modern lifestyle here in the real-life good old U.S. of A.

Select small towns across America are the exception.  As the family model is under attack like never before and the economic woes continue in our fast paced lifestyles, it takes its toll on America’s way of life.  Baseball would seem to be just what the doctor ordered for us as a nation to recuperate.

Imagine, children knowing baseball without a video controller involved, the heat of the Western Kentucky summer more endurable with an iced-cold lemonade, real conversations at the ball park, neighbors sitting on a front porch engaged in conversation about their team, youngsters playing outdoors in the cool of the evening until the beckons of mothers reluctantly pull them from the darkness as they chase fireflies under a blanket of stars.

America… and Hopkinsville needs baseball.



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