With apologies to Voltaire, let me just say: If sports did not exist, man would have to invent them.
At least, for my part, I suspect that were it not for sports I would have completely lost my mind by this point in my life. Working as an editorial cartoonist, I’ve spent most of my adulthood glued to the latest news. The worse the news got, the closer I paid attention. I sloshed through the coverage of scandals, outrage, tragedy and suffering, always mindful of cartoon potential. Hey, it’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it.
When I was laid off from my full-time cartooning gig five years ago, the necessity of being a news junkie evaporated. Suddenly, I no longer needed hourly eyeball injections of man’s inhumanity to man. That’s when I rediscovered sports.
Gradually, I became reacquainted with my inner 12-year-old, the kid who ended summer days with a transistor radio under his pillow. I listened intently to Harry Carey and Jack Buck’s dramatic inning-by-inning accounts of every St. Louis Cardinal game. Then, I began each day with a serious study of the sports pages, absorbing their box scores and team standings. I skipped right past the front-page accounts of Chinese atomic bombs and murdered civil rights workers in Mississippi.
Today, I skipped over the coverage of kidnapped women’s horrors in Ohio and tax disputes in Topeka. My mind turned from the roughness of current events toward the smooth and orderly world of baseball.
Harry Carey is gone and so is Jack Buck. But every now and then, for my own mental health, I put my head down in the sand. There’s a tiny transistor radio in there and it broadcasts accounts from baseball’s saner world.
A diamond in the rough.