This weekend my son and I made our annual trek out to Cooperstown NY for the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction. Each year we get to meet some great ball players of the past, each with their own stories to tell.
I was a bit disappointed in that I did not get a chance to meet one of baseball's greats who was in town, Senator Jim Bunning. Jim proves that sports and politics can mix.
I did however get a chance to speak with a couple truly remarkable legends of baseball who were not only great at the game but great inspirations for life in general.
First was the always entertaining ladies of the Rockford Peaches. I'm still trying to find out which one goosed my butt a few years back when I took a picture with them. Ruth Richards had a couple theories but wasn't sure. We did get a chance to speak briefly about the differences between women's sports and men's. People often don't realize how long woman's baseball was actually around. I for one would love to see a new woman's league surface.
The true heart of baseball however was ever present when I spoke with Robert Scott from the Negro League Black Yankees. The Negro league players never made the big money. They didn't have the glamor and fame that Mickey Mantle and others did during that same time. In fact as Robert was quick to point out often times good records of their games weren't even kept. He turned to my son and joked that he's so young, he can't understand what it was like when these men played ball. Today you look at a team and see melting pots of race where each player is viewed by how many home runs they hit or how many strikeouts they throw. Whether it's Ortiz or Mattingly, Jackson or Ryan, the players today are viewed by what they do on the field. Robert wondered, as do I, how many more Negro League players would be in the Hall today if they were allowed to play side by side with the white players of the day?
It's always an honor to speak with these men (and women) and listen to history straight from those who lived it. And just remember as you sit watching one of our local teams such as the Nashua Pride or the Fisher Cats, you may be watching the players who will be making history tomorrow.