Editorial: The return of baseball amidst a pandemic

  • Ernie Banks, far left, and Ron Santo, far right, pose with their children in Arizona in 1968: Ernie's twins Jerry and Joey; and Ron's sons Ron Jr. and Jeff.

    Ernie Banks, far left, and Ron Santo, far right, pose with their children in Arizona in 1968: Ernie's twins Jerry and Joey; and Ron's sons Ron Jr. and Jeff. Courtesy of Jeff Santo

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 7/1/2020 9:26 AM

Over the weekend, baseball nostalgia columnist Steve Zalusky wrote a reflection of Ron Santo from the viewpoint of his sons growing up with him in Glenview.

As fans of baseball, we bathed in wistful sentimentality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As Mary Hopkin used to sing, "Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end ..."

Those of us old enough to have experienced the era can't think of Santo without thinking of the mostly glorious summer of 1969. Despite the eventual heartbreak of that season, we still feel the golden warmth of its seemingly endless sunshine.

How much simpler that summer was.

(Whoa! Given everything that confronts us these days, we could take that banal observation and run off in all sorts of directions. For today, though, we think we'll stick with sports.)

We don't know what to make of baseball this year.

You've heard of Christmas in July? This year, we have spring training in July.

The players show up at Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field in the next couple of days to begin getting in shape for the 60-game season that is due to begin on July 23.

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How are we, as fans, supposed to feel about that?

Do we embrace it out of our isolation and sports starvation? Do we decry how contorted the game will be under its sterile COVID-inspired rules, restrictions and shortened season? Or do we think the whole thing is dangerous folly?

Right now, it sounds like the games will be played without spectators.

That's not utterly certain. Some hold out hope that the fans can get back with their peanuts and Cracker Jack, but most think that's wishful thinking.

Here in the suburbs, the Schaumburg Boomers won't be playing this summer and that makes sense because without spectators, minor league baseball has no way of making money to pay the bills.

But it doesn't make sense to the Chicago Dogs, who kick off their 2020 season in front of fans in Milwaukee this weekend and vow to play before spectators at Impact Field in Rosemont beginning Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What are we supposed to make of all that?

"This field, this game; it's a part of our past, Ray," James Earl Jones said in the famous "Field of Dreams" soliloquy written by screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson. "It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."

Yes, "people will come." After such exhausting isolation, we all long for a piece of normalcy, long to be dipped again in the "magic waters" Robinson evoked.

But what we make of it is this: The country's infection rate continues to spiral. We hope people will stay safe.

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