OZY on Baseball
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because baseball’s been very, very good to us, too.
You might have heard about the decline of baseball. Well, there is a surprising breeding ground for young baseball talent: in down-home football country. And what’s taking place could eventually change the racial makeup of the MLB. Georgia’s driving a new surge in America’s still-favorite pastime: by way of young, black talent.
In March 1951, the 19-year-old from Commerce, Oklahoma, was not yet “the Mick.” He wasn’t even a major leaguer — just a rookie among many trying to crack the New York Yankees’ vaunted squad that spring. After the exhibition game between the Yankees and USC — one of the best college teams in the country — curious Trojan players paced off the distance of the tape-measure home run hit by Mantle, the son of a coal miner who was younger than most of the college players he was playing against that day. Their estimates place Mantle’s blast somewhere between 550 and 660 feet. And the legend began.
What can our favorite teams do to get more of us through the turnstile? Simple: Bring the turnstile closer. Collect our tickets while we lounge in the living room or multitask on our iPads. It’s time to embrace the fully wired, HD-home theater venue that is the future of sports fandom and start growing the stay-at-home, digital fan base. It’s time for virtual season tickets.
Sean Braswell tackles the question of whether baseball players — pot-bellied, tobacco-chewing, grizzled men spitting, standing around, scratching you-know-what — are real athletes. You might think they’re not, but you’d be wrong. Sometimes not looking the part is exactly what the part requires.