Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Justice at the Twelfth Hour
Jim Ed Rice has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a little like those old Warner Brother movies, or the spoof picture in "The Player," when the Governor saves the innocent guy from sitting on the hot seat. Jim Rice may be one of the more deserving baseball players to be inducted into the hall of fame. And yet it took until now, the last chance, for him to join Dewey Evans and Freddie Lynn, his compatriots in the Boston outfield in the mid-70's. A memorable time for the team, filled with great expectation, high drama and, ultimately, tremendous disappointment. There were many seasons between 1918 and 2004 that were great for the journey and frustrating for the finish. And there was Jim Ed Rice, an MVP, a clutch hitter and a pain in the ass to the media. Is that why he was kept away from Cooperstown? Has he bore the grudge of Pumpsie Green and the missed opportunity of signing Jackie Robinson... that really wasn't missed at all. Boston has never been Brooklyn. The mid-70's were a time of racial conflict in Beantown. School busing and forced integration. Southie showed its true colors... well, actually only one: white. Louise Day Hicks and Kevin White. And the Red Sox. Come rain or come shine. A source of pride, derision and discomfort. I am proud to be from Boston and I was ashamed as hell and more than a little scared as the busses rolled through the 'bury and Dorchester. When rocks and epithets were thrown through the air and Jim was in the outfield. Justice has been served. Let's get spring training going. The boys of summer await. It has always been a pastime and always a game of relevance, of poetry and personalities. Congratulations, Jim. We will often ask what took you so long, but not today.