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Thursday, February 28, 2013

DESTROYING THE IMAGE OF GREATNESS

I never saw Joe DiMaggio play the game, but the stories and old films give me such a feeling of Pride for the way he played and the love he had for this great game of baseball. He was one of the greatest and being an Italian American myself, the idea that guys like DiMaggio, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto and many other Italians were part of the Yankees makes me proud.

I once wrote a piece called WHEN HONORING BASEBALL HEROES GOES REALLY WRONG   and in it, I questioned the way we as Americans treat our heroes long after they’ve passed.  I gave you 2 pretty good examples about the West Side Highway which was changed to the Joe DiMaggio Highway by Rudy Guiliani in 1999 and the Larry Doby Highway over in the back roads of Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Larry Doby Highway sign now stands on the side of a broken down road in dirty snow and weeds near a strip joint.  Sure, the idea was great I'm  paper I'm sure, but the execution and upkeep is horrendous.  We’ve forgotten these greats and  it’s sad really. Are we forgetting that Larry Doby was the second African American to play in the major leagues (1st in the American League) behind the great Jackie Robinson? Next time I'm over that way, I'll take a picture. You won't believe it.


The other day I walked into a bodega and went to grab a Snapple.  My heart sank as a saw an energy drink with Joe DiMaggio’s face on it.  It was some Joltin’ Joe Espresso drink.  I mean, is this what we’ve become?  Is this how we want our Yankees to connect to our youth that have never seen these players but just heard of them?  Disgraceful. Sure, I know, back in the day there were tobacco baseball cards, I got that. The difference was adults bought those, not kids.

But more importantly, what the hell are we doing with our heroes? Again, Larry Doby was the first African American to play in the American League. Jackie Robinson is honored when every baseball player in Major League baseball wearing #42 for 1 day.  A brilliant move.  But then Larry Doby gets a sign on a broken down street in Jersey and Joe DiMaggio gets an energy drink.  Sure, I understand the impact of Jackie, all I'm saying is, maybe a sign on the side of a road isn't the great placement, you know what I mean?

Hey look, I appreciate the honoring of the greats, but instead of just plopping a sign up and being done with it… can we think it through first?  It’s freaking pathetic.  We’re better than that.

That’s my take anyway.

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