Moon Shots: Reflections on a Baseball Life
The opening of Dodgertown in 1948 enabled (Branch) Rickey to survey his stable of baseball talent, young and old, from a single location. The Dodgers had broken baseball’s color barrier the year before and were aggressively signing and cultivating additional African-American players.
The Dodgertown layout enabled the team to conveniently, and without discussion, house all of its players together regardless of color. Just as Little Rock had been ground zero for the desegregation of schools in America, Dodgertown was a facility and an approach important to the future of baseball.
While Rickey was the brains behind the Dodgertown concept, team owner Walter O’Malley supported the idea and invested heavily into the operations. He spared no expense to renovate, recondition, and expand the existing infrastructure. In addition to laying out four practice diamonds on the property, the team also built a separate venue to host Dodgers spring games. Ultimately called Holman Stadium, the ballpark offered the latest in creature comforts at a time when wooden bleachers, lounge chairs, and blankets were the norm in accommodating spectators at spring outings.
Dear Jay, Love Dad: Bud Wilkinson's Letters to His Son
In his words I held before me, Dad’s reassurance was soothing. His endorsement of Duke football coach Bill Murray was important. His faith in me was profound. I could also identify with the feelings of sadness he shared with me. It had been hard on him to leave home as a boy to attend prep school at Shattuck in Faribault, Minnesota, but it had helped to prepare him for what was to come. I knew full well about his experiences serving on the USS Enterprise in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns of World War II. He had come close to dying in a kamikaze attack on his aircraft carrier, but he had survived, unlike many with whom he served. He came through those experiences tougher and wiser, and he wanted the same kind of growth for me.
Away from home myself, I began to gain new perspective, realizing that the world was a much bigger place than I had ever imagined. I was coming to grips with the fact that life was filled with complexities, ambiguities, and at times, sadness. How people adjust and find the good in all things was an important quality and a key ingredient in maintaining happiness. When times are tough, I knew, there was a natural tendency to withdraw, surrender, and feel sorry for oneself. Dad’s focus remained upbeat and optimistic. His guidance and support helped me understand that only by accepting new and progressively more challenging circumstances are people able to develop and grow as individuals.
I began to look differently at my personal situation. My pride in and love for my new school validated both my father’s counsel and my decision to find my own way in life. I liked and respected my classmates, teammates, coaches, and professors. Most important, leaving home enabled me to acquaint myself with the fact that taking on new responsibilities was the natural order of life.
My Baseball Journey: A Sportscaster's Story
Good things can be a long time coming, and standout athletes accustomed to performing for the good of a team can occasionally experience a sort of emotional meltdown when chasing individual achievement. Roger Maris lost clumps of hair in his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. No one may hit .400 in a season again simply because the pressure over the long haul is just too great.
The strain of reaching 3,000 hits weighed so heavily on Yankee Derek Jeter that after finally achieving the milestone and becoming the twenty-eighth player to join the esteemed club, he bowed out of the 2011 All-Star game due to mental fatigue. Jeter missing the Mid-Summer Classic was like swallows failing to return to Capistrano.
Even entire countries can be affected by malaise. Recently, the nation of Belgium went 461 days without an official government.
But what about the pressures facing the broadcaster destined to make the historic call? Nobody thinks about him (or her), but if he’s worth his salt, he gives the matter ample consideration—most of the time.