Dear Editor, Many years ago, I submitted to several newspapers portions of a speech by General Douglas MacArthur, which was given at the conclusion of the successful campaign of U.S. forces in the Philippines during the Second World War.
His words still give me goose bumps, so magnificently insightful and articulate were they.
At this time I would like briefly to put forth five quotes about baseball, my favorite sport. One of those quotes is from myself, and the rest are from various sources, as noted, which span the last 60 years or so. Baseball is, of course, not as vital to our way of life as is victory in a world war, but I hold outstandingly perceptive and artful words about baseball nearly as close to my heart as those relating to triumph over massive diabolical forces.
Perhaps the most telling and pertinent quote about baseball comes from American broadcast journalist and baseball aficionado, George Will:
''Many detractors of the sport point out that baseball is just a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is just a hole in Arizona."
The next two literary passages I would like to cite come from Ed FitzGerald, whose one-time magazine entitled "Baseball's All-Stars", I read originally in 1958, when they helped sparked my dual interest in baseball and journalism.
I like to recall FitzGerald's words about the seventh game of the 1955 World Series, in which Johnny Podres was the winning pitcher in helping Brooklyn defeat their chronically disliked rivals, the New York Yankees. FitzGerald noted that, "immediately after the conclusion of the greatly riveting seventh game, Dodger fans and Yankee fans alike gave Podres a long standing ovation. They had no choice, as they had just watched a brave young man (aged 23) pitch a brave World Series game."
I also love the portrait-like description of the seventh game of the 1956 World Series: “It had been a remarkable World Series until that time, full of unprecedented drama and incredible performances. Of what had gone before it, the seventh game was anticipated as an inevitable thing of beauty, a clash of titans, a climax if there ever was one. But Yogi (Berra) made it no contest." (Berra hit two home runs and the Yankees won the game 9-0.
Most baseball fans of today are quite familiar with the name of Vin Scully, who has aired Dodger games for 67 years and is generally regarded as an unsurpassable broadcasting talent. In the wake of Kirk Gibson's utterly unexpected home run struck in the ninth inning of the first game of the 1988 World Series, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A's, Scully declared in his inimitably magnetic and likable style, "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened." (It was widely believed that Gibson was not even available to play in that game because of an injured leg.)
Finally, I would like to contribute my heretofore unwritten observation about seeing Jose Cruz weep briefly in the Houston Astros dugout after his team had blown several leads and lost the decisive game of the 1980 National League Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies: "I saw him shed just a single tear, but I knew that inwardly he must have been crying for every one of the 50,000 Astros fans, who had shared in this saddest of losses."
I sincerely hope that my own words do not seem overly misplaced when considered in the context of the professionally expressive views of the other baseball observers cited in my letter.