On April 7, 1889, American poet Walt Whitman and his friend Horace Traubel had this conversation.
Whitman said to his friend, “Did you see the baseball boys are home from their tour around the world? How I’d like to meet them — talk with them: maybe ask them some questions.” Traubel replied, “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!”
Whitman responded, “That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! Well — it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”
“Is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”
That’s what makes baseball beautiful. Not today’s games – of which there will be many – not yesterday’s – and not, especially, the one last night that the Orioles let get away (again).
Not any one, but the sum total of them.
The hurrah game. It’s who we are, isn’t it? Or, who we wish to be.
Dorthea Lange, the famed photographer who, better than anyone, documented the Great Depression, took this photo in Cedar Grove, North Carolina (about 20 miles north of Chapel Hill).
Public Domain, Library of Congress #LC-USF34-020008-E
The photograph’s title at the Library Congress, and the title that I am going to believe Lange gave this photo herself, reads:
“Rural filling station becomes community center and general grounds for loafing. The men in baseball suits are on a local team which will play a game nearby. The team is called the Cedargrove Team.”
The community center and men in baseball suits photo was taken by Lange on July 4, 1939.
May your Fourth of July be hopeful. May there be a Hurrah Game for you. And, may your team, dressed in their best baseball suits, win.