Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Sultan of Swat – Babe Ruth hits 60th Home Run of the season

Babe Ruth is known by many nicknames: The Sultan of Swat, the King of Crash, and the Colossus of Clout. On September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth entered the record books, and in doing so, continued to evolve into the mythic nicknamed character we remember today. In the 1927 season, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. No one would be able to touch Ruth’s single season home run record until Roger Maris in 1961. Most recently, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa vied to break Maris’ record, but their achievements have been tainted by the suspicion of steroid use. In a world in which home run records are increasingly paired with steroid allegations or some indication of an unfair advantage, Ruth’s record is all the more impressive today.

As a career home-run hitter, Ruth’s numbers are particularly incredible. Ruth entered the major leagues at the age of nineteen in 1914. In 1919, Ruth hit 27 home runs, which was considered an incredible feat for his time. Ruth’s hitting ability was bolstered by rule changes which benefited the hitter. In an earlier era of baseball, the rules made for a faster more strategy -ridden game. The object was not often to hit home runs with the towering swing Ruth made famous, but to instead get runners on base and then maneuver to advance them towards home. Economy was also a concern, so the same game balls were used until they literally came apart at the seams. When foul balls were hit into the stands, they were thrown back by the crowd and used in the same game.


After hitting 60 home runs in 1927, Ruth was unable to surpass his single season home run record in any of his subsequent seasons. In his last year in the major leagues, Ruth hit just 6 home runs. In popular culture depictions of Ruth, many focus on his own personal excesses, which seemed only to find their match in the grand scale of his baseball talents. That said, many films also focus on Ruth’s inability to walk away from the game he so loved at his prime. Ultimately, Ruth could not abandon the game that brought him so much joy. In his farewell address at Yankee Stadium in 1948 just months before his death, Ruth spoke of the power of baseball in his own life and in the life of the youth in general:

You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you’re a boy and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in your national pastime. The only real game – I think – in the world is baseball.

Here is a clip from Ruth’s farewell address:

Check out this video which shows Babe Ruth hitting his 60th home run of the 1927 season.

[Image via family-ancestry and NYDailyNews]


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” – Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky


September 26 – October 6, 2009 is Banned Books Week in the United States. To celebrate, the American Library Association is holding reading events at libraries across the country where select banned books will be read aloud. They have also created an interactive map showing every attempt to ban a book in the United States during the period 2007-2009. Click here to check it out. I live in Connecticut, so imagine my surprise when I learned by clicking on the interactive map that the public schools in Manchester, CT briefly banned Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn from its classrooms due to racially charged language. Books often speak to the age in which they were written, and if we were to eliminate books from libraries that were in some way tainted by the social views of their age, few books would remain.

After checking for lists of banned books, I found the list of banned or challenged books from this year, also published by the American Library Association. This astonishing list shows that books spanning many genres have been susceptible to public challenges. Besides perennially banned classics such as The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bluest Eye, and the Harry Potter series, I also found some history books on the list. In particular, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States was challenged this year as part of the curriculum of North Stafford Virginia High School’s AP United States History class. Although the book was not the primary textbook of the course, the book was challenged as being “un-American, leftist, propaganda.” To balance out the “un-American” and “leftist” aspects of the book, the students were also required to read an article titled, “Howard Zinn’s Disappointing History of the United States.”

The idea of book banning has existed as long as books have been published. Book banning is not only a challenge to the text being banned, but to the very right of all people to read and write about ideas which may not garner the approval of all of society. If we examine American history, reading has been considered a hallmark of our citizenship since the American Revolution. During the early years of the republic, reading allowed citizens to learn about their government and its laws and to help these ideas to spread. Furthermore, reading allowed people to understand different political ideas and to conceive of different definitions of citizenship. This kind of understanding imparted by books, pamphlets and even newspapers allowed people to form educated opinions, even if they opposed those in power. So banning books is not just about robbing a child or adult of a reading experience that might be informative and fun, it’s also a challenge to a basic tenet of our citizenship. By not supporting book banning, we acknowledge the right of everyone to read books such as Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and to still be able to draw their own conclusions. Interestingly, several United States Presidents have spoken out against book banning and its attempts to quiet the voice of opposition and to deny free speech. In a speech delivered at Dartmouth College on June 14, 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.” President Lyndon Johnson also spoke out against book banning by advocating for the positive influence of books on society, “books and ideas are the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.”

Happy Banned Books Week!


[Image via thebookladysblog]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Anniversary of the Warren Commission Report

On September 27, 1964 the Warren Commission concluded that there was no conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy, and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The Commission consisted of Earl Warren, Richard Russel, Jr., John Sherman Cooper, Hale Boggs, Gerald Ford, Allen Welsh Dulles and John J. McCloy. The Commission’s findings have been thought of as controversial ever since they were made available to the public three days after they were presented to President Johnson on the 24th. Many still believe that President Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy and by more than one shooter (ie the shooters on the grassy knoll theory). In his posthumous memoir, Teddy Kennedy stated that he accepted the findings of the Warren Commission, but his brother Robert was notably cynical about the commission’s findings for the remainder of his life.

For a pop culture investigation into the Warren Commission’s findings, check out Oliver Stone’s JFK. This film follows New Orleans’ District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into the assassination, which reveals an elaborate conspiracy. For any conspiracy nuts out there, even if your strain of conspiracy isn’t specific to the Kennedy assassination, you may want to check out this film. I’ve heard that Stone footnoted the screenplay to emphasize that his claims could be supported by facts, but I’ve never seen a copy of it. Has anyone heard of this?

[Image via PBS]

Holocaust survivors reunite with their rescuers


This week a history teacher facilitated a reunion of Holocaust survivors with some of the World War II veterans who liberated their camp. Many had not seen one another since the day the concentration camp was liberated. Follow the link to read this incredible story.

Holocaust survivors reunite with their rescuers :: Today :: PostStar.com

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[Image via USAtoday]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

“I wish I could give you a lot of advice, based on my experience of winning political debates. But I don’t have that experience." - Richard Nixon


On September 24, 1960, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy took part in the first televised presidential debate. The two candidates appeared in front of an estimated audience of 60 million viewers for the first of four debates. The candidates took different approaches to their debate preparation. Kennedy rested beforehand and allowed the television crew to apply make- up to his skin before taping. This allowed him to appear relaxed and tan. Nixon, on the other hand, did not rest much before the taping. He had also been ill shortly before the debate, so he appeared underweight, pale and uncomfortable. In a storied political flub, Nixon did not wear any make up for the cameras before the debate. This made him appear pale and tired when standing beside a composed Kennedy. Those who listened to the debate on the radio believed Nixon to be the winner. Those who watched it on television thought the winner to be Kennedy. This speaks to the power of the televised image that would be cultivated by every other presidential candidate since the 1960 election. Nixon would wear make-up for the next three televised debates, but by then, fewer people were watching. Here is their first debate in two parts courtesy of www.archive.org.






[Image via
smh.com.au]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Birthday F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)!


Today would have been F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 113st birthday. Fitzgerald is widely known for his quintessentially American novels including The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night. His novels depict life in the post World War I Jazz age. Fitzgerald is also known for being among a group of Americans who remained in Paris after the war. Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein are just a few of the writers who made up this rich ex-pat social life abroad. Outside of his rich social life, there was sadness in Fitzgerald’s life that ultimately ended up in his novels. He battled alcoholism and dealt with the emerging mental illness of his wife, Zelda. He ultimately ended his days working in Hollywood as a screenwriter. While I don’t know anything about whatever screenplays he worked on, I don’t think anyone could deny the enduring beauty of his prose. In honor of Fitzgerald’s birthday, here is the concluding paragraph from The Great Gatsby that speaks both to the power of the American dream and Fitzgerald’s talent as a writer:

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning –

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

For more information on F. Scott Fitzgerald check out the Library of Congress.

[Image via ExquisitelyBored]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

“Regardless of what they say about it, we’re going to keep it” – Richard Nixon’s “Checkers Speech”


On September 23, 1952, Richard Nixon delivered his now famous “Checkers Speech.” Two months after being selected as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate, Richard Nixon decided to use the medium of television to appeal to the American public directly. He had been accused of using money raised for his senate campaign for private/political uses. In an attempt to clear his name and retain his spot on the Republican national ticket, Nixon appeared on television and disclosed his own financial history. He told the audience how much money he and wife Pat had at that time, and how much they owed (and to whom). After listing what he owed, Nixon reaffirmed that he never accepted any gift without payment, except for a pet dog given to his children which they named “Checkers.” He said that he would not be returning his children’s dog, "Regardless of what they say about it." Nixon also indicated that he would not be stepping down from the Republican ticket. Ultimately, Nixon asked the audience to contact the Republican National Committee to say whether or not he should stay on the ticket. The response to his address was overwhelming. An estimated 60 million Americans heard his speech. As history shows, Nixon did not step down as Eisenhower’s Vice-Presidential nominee, and the two swept the election in November.

Here is the “Checkers Speech” broken up into two parts:

[Image via personal.psu.edu]

It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll


Today the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced twelve nominees eligible to be inducted in the 2010 class. The potential inductees include: ABBA, Darlene Love, Donna Summer, Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, KISS, Laura Nyro, LL Cool J, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Chantels, The Hollies, and The Stooges. Of all the inductees, The Stooges have long been passed over for induction, so it will be interesting to see if they are among the five acts that are actually inducted on March 15, 2010. Gene Simmons of KISS has said publicly that he doesn’t care if KISS is inducted or not, but something tells me he won’t have to be dragged to the ceremony if KISS are ultimately chosen as one of the five inducted groups/artists. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame plans to announce the five nominees voted worthy of induction in January 2010. Who do you think deserves to be inducted?

For more information on the nominees, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announcement here.

http://www.rockhall.com/pressroom/nominees-for-2010-induction/

In honor of this year’s nominees, here are some videos of their work:

[Image via destination360]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

“I only regret that I have but one life to give my country” – The Death of Nathan Hale


Nathan Hale (June 6, 1755 – September 22, 1776) was a soldier in the Continental Army who was hung for being a spy during the Revolutionary War. Nathan hailed (forgive me) from Coventry, Connecticut. He was a Yale graduate who worked as a schoolteacher prior to the Revolutionary War. Before his death, he volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission. The British were moving from Staten Island across Long Island during the Battle of Long Island. On September 8, 1776 Nathan Hale volunteered to go behind enemy lines and report on troop movements. While hiding in a tavern in disguise, he was tricked into revealing that he was a patriot by a British soldier and apprehended. Spies were hanged as illegal combatants, and Nathan Hale was treated no differently. Before being hanged on September 22, 1776, Hale is reported to have said, “I regret that I have but one life to give my country.” Nathan Hale has been celebrated for his actions and honored since his death. A statue of Nathan Hale stands at the headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Fairfax County, Virginia as well as in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1985, Nathan Hale was designated the official hero of the State of Connecticut.

An interesting aspect of Hale’s story is whether or not he actually uttered his famous final words. Some sources suggest he gave a different version of that line, or that he at least spoke for more then one sentence. When questioning the reliability of any historical event it is important to consider the sources that exist to tell the story. A British soldier who witnessed the hanging initially reported Nathan Hale’s last words. Enoch Hale, Nathan’s brother, also wrote in his diary what witnesses reportedly heard Nathan say after the fact when Enoch sought out those present. Sometimes when we learn about history we need to not only accept what is being taught, but question how we know what we know.

[Image via sahallquist]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.


On September 21, 1897, newsman Francis Pharcellus Church responded to a letter from eight -year- old Virginia O’Hanlon in the New York Sun. Virginia wrote to the Sun to ask if there really was a Santa Clause:

Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Clause. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.” Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Clause?

In one of, if not the most, famous editorials, Francis Church responded to Virginia saying, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause." He explained how it might be hard to prove Santa’s existence, but that this did not make him any less real, “The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.” Virginia’s letter, and Church’s response have been reprinted countless times in newspapers and holiday books ever since.

To read a transcription of Virginia’s letter and Church’s response in its entirety, visit the Newseum’s website.

[Image via Newseum]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

American Airman's bracelet lost in World War II returns home


Check out this great story about American Airman Jack Glenn's bracelet that was found in Germany during World War II after his plane crashed. After so many years, it is finally being returned to his relatives. The story of the man who kept the bracelet all of these years is equally interesting.

Airman's bracelet lost in World War II returns home

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[Image via Flickr]

Another One Bites the Dust…. Chester A. Arthur is sworn in as President after President Garfield’s death by assassination.


On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot in the back by Charles J. Guiteau at a train station. As Guiteau shot Garfield he shouted “I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts…Arthur is president now.” Chester Arthur was Garfield’s Vice-President and a member of the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party. With this statement, Arthur immediately came under suspicion as possibly being linked to Guiteau. He wasn’t, but that comment certainly made for an awkward transition to Arthur’s presidency. President Garfield lived until September 19th, when it is believed he died from a combination of infections and poor medical treatment. On September 20th, Chester Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President of the United States.


Chester A. Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont in 1829. He attended Union College and went on to practice law in New York City. During the Civil War, he served as Quartermaster General of the state of New York. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Arthur as the Collector of the Port of New York, a very lucrative position within the spoils system. Arthur supervised an excessive amount of employees in the position as a part of Roscoe Conkling’s Stalwart Republican machine. In 1878, President Hayes threw Arthur out of his position at the Port of New York in an effort to reform the civil service system. When Arthur became Vice President under Garfield in 1880, he remained loyal to Conkling in favoring the spoils system of rewarding party loyalty through patronage. However, when he ascended to the presidency one of his greatest political achievements was the Pendleton Act, a major civil service reform bill. Apparently, when Arthur became president he decided to legislate without any fear of political retribution or worries about how his actions might affect his own re-election. This attitude may have been influenced by a medical diagnosis that Arthur kept secret after taking the oath of the presidency. A year after Arthur became president, he was diagnosed with a fatal kidney disease. This seemed to free him from any great concern over his own political future beyond his term. He attempted to gain his party’s nomination in 1884 to keep up appearances, but was unsuccessful. President Arthur died in 1886. Publisher Alexander K. McClure summed up President Arthur’s presidency saying, “No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired…more generally respected.” Even the cynical Mark Twain summed up Arthur’s legacy with approval, “It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur’s administration.”

Read more about President Chester Arthur at the official White House website.

Images via NPS.gov and Wikepedia]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bold as Love: The Death of Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)


September 18, 2009 marks the anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death at the young age of twenty-seven. Hendrix was a visionary guitarist who, although he never learned to read or write music, made an indelible mark on the history of rock and roll. Hendrix had a gift for composing original riffs and compositions, while also being able to cover the work of other artists in a way that left them forever changed in public perception. A few examples of this ability include Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower and his interpretation of The Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock. Also, in an anecdote that speaks as much to his virtuosity at learning music just by listening as to his ability to create unique covers, Jimi Hendrix heard the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band the day it was released and performed a cover of the song just a few days later. Paul McCartney was in attendance at this show in London and was amazed at Jimi’s ability to learn the music so quickly, and to be able to make the song his own.

Although he died at the tender age of twenty-seven, Jimi Hendrix left a rich legacy behind. For some, he became an icon of his age; an example of both the art and excesses of the late 1960s. That said, after witnessing the drama of his music and performances, generations of teenagers everywhere have been inspired to take up the electric guitar in the hopes of maybe someday forming a band and lighting their guitars on fire (See Monterey Pop Festival). The rest of us just remain humbled and inspired by his unique combination of guitar distortion, fuzz and feedback.

As an icon of American cultural history, it is interesting to note that Hendrix did not attain widespread acclaim in the United States until after the Jimi Hendrix Experience had already debuted to commercial success in England. The Who had seen Jimi perform in England prior to the Monterey Pop Festival, and therefore refused to follow him on the bill. However, despite the recognition that came from performing in England, Jimi Hendrix walked onto the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival as a largely unknown quantity to American audiences. That would no longer be true by the end of his performance. In honor of Jimi Hendrix and his fans worldwide, here is a clip of his performance at Monterey Pop (including his guitar sacrifice).

[Image via NightswithAliceCooper]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Constitution and Citizenship Day!


Today marks a very important day in our nation’s history. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was signed by the members of the Constitutional Convention. After being signed by members of the convention (all but three signed), the Constitution was then sent to the states for ratification. This process was by no means easy, as the document had as many detractors as fans. However, the Constitution received the necessary approval of the states and became law, replacing the Articles of Confederation. If at this point you are thinking “this is boring,” or “what does this nerd fodder have to do with my life?,” then this may be an appropriate time to talk about the other name for September 17th, Citizenship Day. Citizenship Day honors all of us who are lucky enough to be American citizens. As citizens, we should be familiar with the Constitution and the struggles that brought it into being if for no other reason that it is the living breathing roadmap of our citizenship. Besides laying out the basic framework of our government, it also guarantees basic freedoms and legal protections in the form of the Bill of Rights.
Citizenship Day celebrations sometimes include nationalization ceremonies to welcome new citizens to the country. Today I had the privilege of attending a naturalization ceremony that welcomed twenty-four new citizens into the fold. The ceremony was unexpectedly moving, and reminded me of the many responsibilities of citizenship that I often forget. Being an American citizen is hard work. When I listened to the oath being administered to the new citizens, I was reminded of how much is expected of American citizens. For example, immigrants are asked to swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. This in it of itself is a pretty heady task when we consider that defending the Constitution can mean fighting foreign enemies who challenge the freedoms laid out in this quintessentially American document. More challenging perhaps is the pledge to defend the Constitution against domestic enemies. Sometimes we defend our freedoms by acknowledging their exercise in the service of causes we may not understand. For example, we may not agree with flag burning or private gun ownership, but we would have a hard time denying the existence of the rights that allow it within our government. We may debate the merits of these rights, but the debate itself serves only to further acknowledge the greatness of a system that allows debate instead of attempting to squash dissent.

Do you have what it takes to pass a citizenship test? Click
here to take a test with sample questions.

Here are some other sample questions often asked on INS citizenship exams.

Interested in becoming a United States citizen?
Click here for more information.

[Image via ssecamoreperfectunion]


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lights, Camera, Lincoln!


In the past few days there have been several articles about the future of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln biopic. Like every other Lincolnian out there, I was very excited when I first heard about this project a few years ago. Especially since I heard that Spielberg would be basing his film on Doris Kearns Goodwin's
Team of Rivals, which I think is an excellent Lincoln book. However, my excitement has abated in recent months when it seemed that funding and other hiccups would keep the film from ever being made. Imagine my surprise when I read two articles in the UK's Guardian and Variety that quote Spielberg saying that his Lincoln film will move forward, while simultaneously announcing that Robert Redford plans on directing a Lincoln film of his own!

Read the
Variety article here, and the Guardian's article here.


Robert Redford plans to direct a film called The Conspirator which focuses on the story of Mary Surratt, a woman accused of conspiring to kill Lincoln. James McAvoy is set to star as an idealistic attorney who comes to believe her claims of innocence while working in her defense. I don't want to ruin the ending of this film but this picture tells a story.

Steven Spielberg's biopic, on the other hand, focuses on Lincoln's anguish over the Civil War. He is quoted in both stories as saying he doesn't mind the competition of Redford's Lincoln film, which will be released first, "We are very happy that Redford will be doing this Lincoln movie," he said. "It is completely different from what our DreamWorks Lincoln movie will be, and we believe that it will add to the commercial potential of our film. Lincoln as a subject is inexhaustible." While I don't know if Redford's film will affect the success of Spielberg's film either positivley or negatively, I can agree that Lincoln as a subject is inexhaustible.

Follow the production of Spielberg’s movie
here.

Follow the production schedule of Robert Redford’s film (rumored to be shooting in Savannah, GA)
here.

[Images via
www.wuis.org and www.usa-civil-war.com]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

“There is a certain fatality about presidential functions when I am present” - The Curse of Robert Todd Lincoln



Yesterday I marked the death of President McKinley as a result of assassination. A strange and trivial fact about presidential assassinations occurred to me after writing about the McKinley assassination that I thought I would share it with you. Robert Todd Lincoln has the unfortunate distinction of having been present at three separate presidential assassinations:







1) Robert Todd Lincoln was not present at Ford’s Theater when his father was shot on April 14, 1865, but he was there when Lincoln died hours later.

2) On July 2, 1881, Lincoln (who was serving as Secretary of War) was at the Sixth Street Train Station in Washington D.C. at the invitation of President James A. Garfield, and was an eyewitness to his assassination (Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau).

3) On September 6, 1901, President William McKinley invited Robert Todd Lincoln to join him at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Lincoln was an eyewitness to the shooting that resulted in McKinley’s death on September 14th.

Robert Todd Lincoln seemed to be aware of his own curse; which resulted in presidential deaths as a result of his very presence. When later invited to a presidential event, Lincoln supposedly demurred saying, No, I'm not going, and they'd better not ask me, because there is a certain fatality about presidential functions when I am present.”


While he seemed to be conscious of his own curse, it is interesting to note that his last public appearance was with Presidents Warren G. Harding and William Howard Taft at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. Both president survived the occasion which may have proved that there was no curse after all….but it still seems strange to me.

Here is a video that Thomas Edison’s film company made commemorating the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. The film, made shortly after McKinley’s death, shows an angel like figure looking on the images of the fallen presidents, followed by a scene in which a figure that represents the assassins falls on the altar of justice presumably begging forgiveness. If only Edison knew of the curse of Robert Todd Lincoln, he might have had Lincoln standing awkwardly in the background through all three assassinations…

[Image via Pastorron7 and Jive Mofo]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame…or Not - Commissioner Bud Selig Announces the Cancellation of the 1994 Baseball Season due to a Strike by Players


September 14th also marks the 15th anniversary of the cancelation of the 1994 baseball season after a strike by players. The main dispute was between Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners vs. the players. Selig and the owners wanted to impose a salary cap on the league, and the players wanted nothing of the kind. The strike lasted from August 12, 1994 to April 2, 1995. At the end of the day, Judge Sonia Santomayor (now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court) issued an injunction against the owners, which prevented the salary cap and effectively ended the strike before the start of the 1995 season.

Click here to read an interesting editorial by David Gregory on the legacy of the 1994 strike. For one thing, the Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball in 1994 before the strike, and the strike clearly denied them a shot at the World Series. Fifteen years afterward, the Expos have been reborn as the Washington Nationals. Who knows if the Expos would still exist had they been able to chase a World Series in 1994 and energize a whole new contingent of their fan base? Overall, it would be hard to calculate how much the teams and players lost in ad revenue, ticket sales and merchandise, but most of all: in the all important area of self-respect. With the start of the 1995 season, the anger felt by fans across the nation was evident as many felt that Americans lost out on their national pastime for no other reason than the shared greed of players and owners. Fans booed at season openers, and many were soured on the sport for good. Did the strike achieve anything lasting? Did it change the game for the worse? I can’t say, but I’m certainly open to opinions.

[Image via gooseradio]