Al’s View: World Series and Memories of a Better Time?

The World Series and Memories of a Better Time?

By: Al Hudson-December 19, 2007


Being a baseball man, the World Series is a special time for me and millions of other sports fans across the nation. For most little boys, the first competitive sports action for us was Little League baseball. Going to the field with our Dads for the first time was one of our most precious memories.

The 1950’s, when I played Little League ball, was a time of family. Dad’s first obligation after work was to play catch in the backyard. Most fathers had played the game with their Dads and there was an obligation to pass the game on to the next generation. Mom understood the importance of baseball. Everything from meals to vacation was planned around their son’s baseball games and practices. Parents did not miss a game or a practice, because this was their responsibility as a parent.

Sadly, times have changed. Most parents are split as to their obligations. Some families still embrace the opportunity to be a positive influence in their son’s, and now daughter’s, life in athletics. If you go to any ball field, you will find Moms and Dads coaching, working the concession stand and helping with field maintenance. However, the vast majority of us don’t understand the importance of this mission. Too many kids are dropped off at the field for practice and games, only to have the parents return two hours later to pick up their children. Little do they understand the absolute joy of seeing their children with a chance to compete in a positive learning experience.

Can you imagine the time a player gets their first hit, and there is no one from the family there to share it with.

While on the subject, how about sponsors for sports programs within the community? I noticed several sponsors for the World Series that are prominent in our area.

How about getting involved locally?

I am not going to mention names of companies, but all local businesses should be involved in youth activities.

Baseball, football, volleyball, soccer, basketball or any other sport that involves young people should be supported. We have all heard the phrase “The children are our future”.

Step up and be counted. Parents, grandparents, businesses and former players are all needed to help mold the future of our children.

I must admit the joy of seeing Carl Yastrzemski and his teammates from 1967 brought back happy memories of a time before Woodstock, disco, free love and the disintegration of the American family. The loss of Dad to the family has caused most of the situations that are prevalent in our society today. In too many cases, Dad isn’t home after work to play catch in the yard.

In addition, I reflect to the passing of Jim Mitchell. As a young black man, growing up in Shelbyville, TN, Mitchell was subjected to a segregated education and athletic experience.

Do we want to return to those times?

Mitchell, an exceptional athlete, survived and went on to become an NFL star with the Atlanta Falcons. But how many young black athletes missed their opportunity because of their “situation”.

Happier times, yes. Less troubled times, yes. But we live in a much better environment now. Education levels are far advanced from the 1950’s. Equal opportunity has provided a more well-rounded society capable of greater achievement.

Negro Leagues Baseball: Along that vein, how do you feel about Buck O’Neil and the baseball Hall of Fame? O’Neil was an outstanding contributor to the game of baseball. A player in the Negro Leagues before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. O’Neil, too old to capitalize on the opportunity, was an ambassador to baseball until his passing at age 95. The first black coach in Major League baseball, he taught the game to both black and white without prejudice. He continued to speak to numerous groups about the benefits of youth participation in baseball until his death.

The Hall of Fame recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement award posthumously to O’Neil, will erect a statue inside the museum and rename the award the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to the Hall of Fame. But why now?

Before his passing, he failed by two votes of being inducted. Shame on you for not recognizing him before he died.

However, in true O’Neil style, he was quoted as saying “ As much as I would have loved to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the players that I may have helped along the way are the greatest award a man can have”.

Question: What was the price of a box seat for Game 7 of the World Series if played in Boston? Would you believe that you could have purchased those tickets on a popular “non scalping” web site for only $20,589.00 per ticket. No, that is not a misprint, $20,589.00 per ticket. Most youth sports programs could run their entire operation on $20,000.00 and let the kids play for free. I hope this column makes you think.

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