Mike Littwin is taking some much-deserved time off, so we decided to share some of our favorite Littwin columns with you until he returns.
Today, we reach into the Colorado Sun archives for Mike’s thoughts on one of his favorite topics other than politics: baseball. In the first column here, he touches on themes of love, hate and a family’s fierce, divided loyalties.
Littwin: Baseball is back. And in my family, it’s much, much more than a game.
Please forgive me for taking a mental-health break today in order to briefly avoid all serious news, from Putin’s horrific war, from one of Trump’s GOP House acolytes calling Zelenskyy a “thug,” from being thankful that my morning commute — a block-and-a-half walk to the coffee shop — doesn’t cost me $4 a gallon.
And from Tina Peters and her imaginary Gerald Wood friend, from the mad rush to de-mask during what is still officially a pandemic, from the brilliant but haunting New York Times story and photos of a Ukrainian mother, her two children and a church volunteer guide running for safety from Russian bombs only to be killed on a bridge by Russian troops.
I could go on — and on, and on — but I’m not here today to depress you, gentle reader, or myself. In fact, I’m here to celebrate fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, a grandfather’s gift, a boy’s first love, a long-since-grownup boy’s enduring love and, as I’ll explain, the first time a family member threatened to kick me out of the family.
In other words, to celebrate the news that, after 90 days of a labor dispute, baseball has been rescued from an owners’ lockout and the possible loss of some or, shudder, maybe even all of the season. The celebration — as told in this column anyway — is also the story of my life, which I’ve told before, and which maybe you’ve even seen before, but this is the only life I’ve got, so please indulge me.
I wrote it first in 1982 when my grandfather — my mother’s father and devout baseball fan — died. I wrote it the first time because I was out of the country and couldn’t get to the funeral, and this would be my eulogy.
In this next column, Mike really hit his stride as he found a way to touch on both politics and baseball.
Littwin: Let’s give thanks to Trump and his toadies for bringing the All-Star Game to Coors Field
Even though Coloradans overwhelmingly rejected Donald Trump on the 2020 ballot — he lost by the greatest margin in the state since Reagan crushed Mondale in 1984 — we should offer him a belated thank you.
Without Trump and, specifically, without his GOP toadies, Major League Baseball would never have moved the All-Star Game to Coors Field, where some (we don’t know yet how many) Colorado fans will be fortunate enough to be able to watch baseball in person without having to also watch the Rockies.
As you probably heard, MLB, not exactly America’s most woke institution and one whose last show of enlightenment may have come in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color line, pulled the game out of Georgia after the state passed a voter suppression law. The law comes as no shock. Although Georgia went narrowly for Joe Biden and just elected two Democratic senators, it still has a Republican legislature and a Republican governor, and so Georgia did what similar states are attempting to do, passing laws in reaction to Trump’s bogus claim that the 2020 election was rigged.
In this next column, Mike does it again. We’re beginning to sense a definite trend here.
Littwin: Baseball returns, but not like we’ve seen it before, with Black Lives Matter a big focus
As a kid, from the youngest age I can remember, my family’s dinner time conversation generally skewed toward one of three things — baseball, books and politics.
Baseball was mother’s milk. My first dog’s name was Dodger. My mother came from a family of Yankees fans, but converted to being a Dodgers fan when she married my father. I was surprised that my grandfather — her father — didn’t write her out of the will. My sister, raised by Dodgers fans, married a Yankees fan — and also converted. Life has always been hard, I guess.
I still have a black-and-white photo — a similar one ran in my hometown newspaper — from the first day of spring training, with me at bat, my little sister on deck, one friend catching, one friend umpiring behind the plate and one (unpictured) friend pitching. I have a frustrated expression on my face — OK, I was 9 years old — because I was instructed by the photographer to swing and miss, apparently to protect the photographer from being on the wrong end of a line drive. To me, it was just an embarrassment that would be seen around (my admittedly small) world.
It was February cold, but I’d be playing baseball every day, until my mother called us in for dinner, from then until the end of October. That was my youth — my America Was Great Back Then youth— which was great only if you don’t count the Jim Crow laws, segregated schools, country club and other restrictions against Jews, Roe v. Wade was years away, that in many states anti-miscegenation laws were still in place, that LGBTQ rights were a distant dream, that neighborhoods were redlined, back of the bus, Rosa Parks, Woolworths counter sit-ins, terrorism in Birmingham, MLK testing our consciences, Freedom Riders in Mississippi, the Edmund Pettus Bridge (which many now want to rename in honor of John Lewis) and on and on and on.
If you happen to see Mike at a nearby ball field, please let him know that we’re rooting for the game to go into extra innings, just for him.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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