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Solving our differences on a baseball field

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By Larry Rowell

If you haven’t visited the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, then it’s well worth the trip.

Saturday, my wife, son and I spent the afternoon perusing the museum, exhibits and factory where the baseball bats are made.

As we toured the facility, I was struck by the diversity that the game of baseball represents.

One certainly cannot forget the greats of the game that used bats manufactured in Louisville — Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Honus Waggoner and Ty Cobb, to name a few. And it would most certainly be criminal to overlook Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, the “boys of summer” in Yankee pinstripes.

But it wasn’t until 1947 with the integration of baseball with Branch Rickey’s hiring of Jackie Robinson that baseball took on a new face — and color.

Today, professional baseball players come from ethnic groups from all over the world — African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Europeans.

What binds them together is the love of the game — a civilized game played by rules and governed by sportsmanship.

The people with whom we toured the museum also came from all over the world as evidenced by the languages we heard spoken.

As we celebrated our day of independence Saturday, I thought about all the problems we face as a nation.

Certainly, immigration reform is at the top of the list along with the faltering economy, health care reform and the death of Michael Jackson.

OK, so the King of Pop’s passing will be more of a problem for the Mayor of Los Angeles and the gazillions of people headed to LA for the funeral than for the nation.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but think that if Dems and Republicans, Jews and Palestinians, whites and Latinos could all meet on the diamond for nine innings of pure baseball, we could work out our ethnic and political differences.

The winner would set the agenda for talks after the game.

And maybe, just maybe, solutions could be worked out to the world’s problems.

After all, baseball players represent every stripe and ilk in life and they all seem to get along pretty well — except for the occasional bench-clearing brawl.

We learned how to do this as kids when we played baseball during the summer months when school was out from the first of June until the Tuesday after Labor Day — now that was summer!I lived on Second Street and our hated rivals lived on Third and Fourth Streets.

We could play ball nearly all day, and yes, there were some calls that were disputed, but somehow we always seemed to work out a solution to the problem without killing each other.

I know this is simplistic thinking on my part, but I cannot help but dream that there’s got to be a way to settle our differences without going to war.

But since that probably will never be the case, my hat is off to those men and women in the service of the armed forces who sacrificed their lives for freedom — our freedom.

Maybe one day our differences will be settled on a field of play instead of on a field of battle.

Larry Rowell is a writer for The Casey County News in Liberty, Ky.