This weekend marks the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, marked by commemorations, galas, exhibits, re-enactments, official visits, books, movies, souvenirs and enough half-crocked pseudo history to condemn Jamestown to oblivion for another fifty years. The Queen’s visit was a reprise of the last big bash, in 1957, two years before this grandfather was born. These things need happen every generation. I remember clearly the 200th anniversary of 1776. We buried a time capsule with our John Henry’s for the next generation. I suffixed my name with esq. (Esquire. Bill and Ted were not even yet twinkles in some screenwriter’s eye at that point), hoping future folk had an appreciation of irony and a sense of humor my frowning teacher seemed lacking.
The Jamestown Quadracentennial will pale in comparison to the Civil War Sesquicentennial, approaching four years from now. Once again that great conflict in American history will push Jamestown into the nether reaches of memory.
One of the fundamental motivations for launching The Jamestown Site was in preparation for a long and eagerly awaited study of the Civil War. Jamestown was where it all began. In Jamestown, indentured servitude, used to repay passage to the New World, morphed into chattel slavery. In Jamestown, the seeds of an agricultural economy based on forced labor were sown and took root. In Jamestown, African slaves first arrived in America. The Civil War began in Jamestown.
And the modern game of baseball began in the Civil War.
— Michael Norton
Ken Burns had it right: more than any other sport, baseball reflects America. It may be debatable whether it is the national pastime anymore, but it still mirrors America more than any other sport, a justification I use for the time I devote to baseball.
Today is Jackie Robinson day in baseball, and over a half century later there is still racism. Case in point: McGwire is not vilified to the degree Bonds is, although the book that renewed the inevitable steroid controversy this season makes it clear that Bonds stepped across the line when he saw that “white boy” receive a nation’s adulation in pursuit of the single season home run record. I am not in any form or fashion a Bonds simpatico, but imagine being the very best at what you do, only to watch your status compromised by a cheater—and yes, lily white Big Mac is every bit the cheat Bonds is excoriated for being. The fact we don’t loathe McGwire even more than Bonds is proof that, almost sixty years after Robinson crossed those white lines to become the first black player in the majors, we are still racist.
Racism works both ways, however. From the excerpts I read, it particularly incensed Bonds that McGwire was white. Bonds’ supporters are as willing to excuse his misdeeds as they were of OJ’s murder of two whites. Racism becomes the ultimate sin which trumps all civil behavior. Morality pivots on principles, which are too often trivialized by brands like racism, capitalism, even the name of God. Did Lincoln make something of a deal with the devil making freedom the objective of a war as justification for an unpopular war? That it sounds so familiar should cause us all to reflect on the meaning of the events of the last century and a half.
Harbor Park is a wonderful place to ruminate on such things. The battle of the Monitor and Merrimac occurred not far from here, fed by the same waters that flow just over the right field fence. The railroad runs across a bridge parallel to left field–one can almost envision men and materials being transported to the battlefields which are commemorated throughout Virginia. Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, is just up the road and is the Tides arch rival. What a wonderful place for baseball. — Michael Norton
Kellia, sorry I missed your earlier, as usual interesting, comments. I forgot you were a displaced Mets fan–we’ve kinda swapped coasts 8).
Where Are They Now?
Angel Pagan, an outfielder for the Tides last year, made it with the Cubs. Unfortunately he is headed for the DL.