Baseball is no longer king.
It is Opening Day of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. At one time the words “Opening Day” was a magical experience, the Boys of Summer were back and the National Pastime was beginning the long trek to the Fall Classic, the World Series. Baseball was, Casey At The Bat, a throwaway poem by Ernest Thayer written in 1888 that ended up as a vaudeville skit and became the bane of fourth graders who were asked to analyze the poem. There was Take Me Out to the Ballgame, a 1908 modern woman named Katie Casey told her boyfriend to take me out with the crowd. There was Abbott and Costello, “Who’s on First” the comedy routine. There was the Babe and the great DiMaggio who was lionized in the Old Man and the Sea classic book by Hemingway. Joe DiMaggio would be revisited in song in Paul Simon’s classic Mrs. Robinson. Baseball players were in vaudeville, in movies, and on radio and TV. In 1954, the French social commentator Jacques Barzun noted. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game.”
Baseball was dominant. Baseball was everywhere. Now sports seasons clash. Opening Day featured a parade in Cincinnati and the first game of the season was in Cincinnati, the home of the first professional team in 1869. There was a Presidential Opener in Washington. But Baseball now takes a back seat to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NFL Draft, the Stanley Cup and the NBA Finals all competitors in the spring and NFL training camps open in July. There was always horse racing, the Indy 500 golf and tennis tournaments around but baseball was always at the top followed by boxing and horse racing. Those days are gone. Baseball is no longer the king.