Friday, July 28, 2006
A Baseball Fan No More
When the Grand Forks Chiefs, a second-tier minor league Team were playing in Grand Forks Stadium, lo those many years ago, I was not only one of their die-hard fans, but a fan of the major leagues as well. I was a Yankee fan. I won't say I knew the stats of all the ball players, but I did pay attention to the more famous players.
I was a member of the Knothole Gang (bleachers along the third base line in the outfield, fifty cents for every home game for twelve-year-olds and under), then I sold ice cream sandwiches in the grandstand, just to be there.
Then, I observed (from afar) the move of the Dodgers and the Giants to the west coast. It seemed strange. at the time. These teams had been in New York forever, then suddenly, they were gone.
I've been to only one Dodgers' game in LA, though I've seen a few on TV.
My disenchantment with baseball started in the early 1980's. Seems a couple of ball players, leaving the stadium in street clothes after a game, thought it'd be funny to throw a cherry bomb into the crowd of fans waiting to watch the players depart--possibly in the hopes of getting an autograph. The cherry bomb exploded in the air near a small child who was being held in her mother's arms. The little girl suffered some hearing damage from the explosion.
I think the Dodgers organization reached a settlement for a payment for damages over the incident, but the sleazy part of it was the half-assed "politician's apology" that the Dodgers' spokesman gave the news people, and the fact that they lawyered up before saying or doing anything.
The thing that really did it for me though, happened much earlier. I learned about it several years ago and haven't been able to think positively about baseball since.
Seems the city of Los Angeles, back in the late 1940's/early 1950's, was nearly as corrupt as it is now. The city wanted to create a housing project for the poor. They chose Chavez Ravine, I guess because there were only about 2000 Hispanics living there, some in run-down houses. The city condemned the area setting off a series of protests, acts of resistance and fights that lasted ten years.
After the "Better Dead than Red" crowd declared the public housing project a socialist idea (which, of course, it was) it was decided to use the property to lure the Dodgers to LA. The rest is history.
Read the story of The Battle of Chavez Ravine.
I don't know how deeply involved Walter O'Malley, the then owner of the Dodgers, was in the theft of the Chavez Ravine, but his shenanigans with Brooklyn officials left little doubt as to his desires.
So, after 2000 Mexican-Americans, some of whom were recently home from fighting in WWII, were forcibly removed from their homes, Los Angeles acquired a Major League baseball team.
I suppose this kind of story has been repeated several times around the country, with many big-league sports teams and many criminal city officials, but I still despise the notion of Eminent Domain.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!