Memorial Day Doubleheaders: A Tradition That Needs to be Revised

Bob Feller enlisting in World War II. Image courtesy of baseballinwartime.com

For a long time, Memorial Day doubleheaders (along with twinbills on July 4th and Labor Day) were traditions that held strong in Major League Baseball. In fact, as this article in The Atlantic points out, every National League team in the years 1940, 1952 and 1955 played doubleheaders on Memorial Day.  And while pursuit and love of money has wrecked  every tradition in sports, the ditching of the Memorial Day double-dip is something that remains and will remain disturbing until the tradition is revised.

No sport has had more of an impact on our society than baseball.  Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 making it easier for men like Martin Luther King, Jr. to further integrate America.  It was President Franklin Roosevelt who asked Major League Baseball to continue its normal business operations during World War II with one glaring difference.  Many professional baseball players enlisted during the war leaving the game thin on its biggest stars.  Legends such as Ted Williams and Bob Feller  gave up prime portions of their careers to fight for our country.  While there were no active Major Leaguers were killed in action, Harry O’Neill and Elmer Gedeon  had brief stints in the Bigs during the 1939 season and made the ultimate sacrifice.  Eddie Grant  was the only active player to be killed in action during World War IBaseballinwartime.com  is an excellent site for those of you interested in learning about ballplayers serving our country in its greatest time of need.

When I was driving home from work Friday, I wasn’t excited about the prospect of a three day weekend.  Was I glad to be spending more time with my family?  You bet.  However, Memorial Day is not a time for joy.  I wasn’t thrilled about getting an extra day because it symbolizes  the death of men and women who had still had much living to do.  They gave all so the rest of us left behind still had more to give.  Memorial Day should neither be about a radio station’s countdown list nor the “unofficial” start of Summer.   It is not about Vice President Biden patting himself and President Obama on the back regarding the death of Osama bin Laden.  And no, Rush Limbaugh our solders did not die so that the day we set aside for them is attached to some car company’s or some clothing apparel’s “blowout sale”.   On Memorial Day, we honor those who fought for and died for freedom first and everything else that unfortunately has come to symbolize this day should either be muted or toned down out of respect for our bravest Americans.

It is time for Bud Selig and company to revive the Memorial Day doubleheader.  It doesn’t have to be done in all cities but in one American League Park and one National League park per season.  It could be served as a remembrance and solemn celebration of all baseball has given this great country.   It will also remind the nation of why we enjoy all of the many freedoms that have been granted to us by our brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com

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