"The only change is that baseball has turned Paige from a second class citizen to a second class immortal."
An asterisk can be defined "a small star-like symbol (*), used in writing and printing as a reference mark or to indicate omission, doubtful matter, etc." In the last few years many journalists and fans alike have wanted to use this mark to place next to players that may enter the Baseball Hall of Fame under the suspicion of having used performance enhancing substances. Barry Bonds was, and for all practical purposes still is, the poster boy for this discussion. However, due to the release of the now infamous Mitchell Report other famous players...great white players, such as Roger Clemens and a host of others have come under the microscope of public opinion too, causing concern that the use, or alleged use, of substances such as steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) were widely employed by Major League Baseball (MLB).
I find it objectionable and almost ludicrous that tax payer's money has gone into an investigation in this matter. The number of billable hours that lawyers have accumulated dealing with issue are sure to be outrageous. Tom Brokaw, former anchor and news editor for NBC's Nightly News used to have a portion of his broadcast called "The Fleecing of America" and the investigation into MLB by Congress would surely to fit into one his sobering broadcasts.
Regardless, beyond the steroid debate about who used and who did not, I could really care less. I have been a fan of the game since I was a kid, and will continue to be. I know and understand that baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and golf are well beyond the insane cries for the preservation of the integrity of the game..."America's past time." That argument is about as flawed as Bobby Brown's sobriety or FOXNews one sided reporting. As long as people are paid inordinate amounts of money to play or participate in anything you generally loose "integrity" and you get entertainment just like motion pictures. We do not seem to hold the honor of movies in the same place as we do sport even though it too is entertainment and a business first and foremost. However, Woodrow Wilson's chilling comment that the racist film Birth of a Nation was "like writing History with lightning," is indeed questionable as his words helped to facilitate the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in the early part of the twentieth century.
Many members of Congress have argued that their investigation and hearings are about "saving the lives of the children of America" who look up to sports icons as heroes. Well, it is time that parents do some parenting and stop letting sports figures dictate how and what their children should be doing. Did I have sports heroes? Of course. In fact I still do. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are two of my favorite sports icons, yet they are two of the grayest individuals on the planet, controlled by marketing/endorsement dollars and stand for nothing more than materialist culture of consumption and empty accomplishment. They are defined holistically by their profession. They along with so many others are simply successful, but will never be truly great men. That distinction was made for me by my parents, grand-parents, and a host of relatives and family friends who cautioned me to appreciate athletes for what they were, not what they were not. Yes, that can be disappointing, but it allows one to see life outside of the hyper sports media machines that now exist.
ESPN (the "Ma Bell" of sports media) is currently running an ongoing series every night on the show SportsCenter where they ask viewers to vote for their favorite highlights in sports history. Of those "great"memories, is Babe Ruth's famous 1932 World Series Home Run. That year, the New York Yankee slugger supposedly "called" his hit over the fences. I look at that highlight with wonder. Not with the mythical view of sports greatness, but I wonder would he have hit that ball if he was playing against arguably better talent had the Negro Leagues not existed and baseball was integrated from the start. Satchel Page, one of my favorite baseball players of all time, along with other greats like Josh Gibson, were denied the opportunity to play against Ruth. Actually in 1932, I believe that Paige had a 31-4 record. Therefore, I wonder if Paige was playing for the Chicago Cubs then could he have struck Ruth out. Would we be talking about the Cubs win because of the unhittable pitching of Paige? We will never know.
The question is will an asterisk be placed next to Ruth, and the whole list of other immortalized ball players in Cooperstown (and all the other sports Hall of Fames) to put these "White Hope's" accomplishments in their proper context?