Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When Worlds Collide

The arc of the baseball universe is long but it bends towards the Mets.
-- Anonymous

I have devoted my professional career to defending death row inmates, and I am passionate about human rights, civil rights and social justice.  And although I would probably choose world peace and abolition of the death penalty over a world championship for the Mets, I am also quite passionate about baseball and New York's National League team.  These two worlds do not usually intersect.  In fact, baseball for me is often a  critical respite from the stresses of the real world.

It was therefore quite startling to read the names of Martin Luther King (III) in the same sentence as two Met icons.  But there they were.  Martin Luther King, Jr.'s son was linked with two former Mets, Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon as part of an investment group with an interest in purchasing a share of the Mets' ownership.  Not only would this group help the current owners who are looking for an infusion of cash due to ongoing litigation over their involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal, but, according to King, would have the added bonus of adding diversity to the sport's upper echelons:

I believe in the merit and American value of creating an example, and if I personally, or as part of a collective, can advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports, domestically or internationally, then, like my father, I am prepared to act in that spirit.

When the Mets replaced Shea Stadium with their new ballpark, Citi Field, three years ago they decided to name the entryway the "Jackie Robinson Rotunda."  Upon entering the stadium the first thing you see is an enormous "42," which was Robinson's number.  When I made my first pilgrimage to Citi Field and saw the "42" upon entering, I joked with my buddies how odd it was that the Mets dedicated the stadium to Mo Vaughn, a player who wore number 42 but did little when he played for the Mets. My friend Doug told me I was mistaken; the Mets were honoring Butch Huskey, another Met who wore that number.

Taking nothing from Robinson's truly monumental achievements, the focus on the Brooklyn Dodger legend seemed contrived.  When Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, it was 15 years before the Mets even existed.  The only connection with the Mets that I was aware of was that the owner, Fred Wilpon, is from Brooklyn and rooted for Robinson and the Dodgers in his youth.  It seemed to me that while there should be a tribute to Robinson for his incalculable contributions to the game and to the country, it didn't make sense to have this great and historic Dodger player dominate the Mets new stadium.

But now I get it.  With the potential of Martin Luther King III buying the Mets it is all coming together.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was great. I wonder where Rusty Staub is in all of this?

Don't know much about MLK's son, but love Kranepool, Clendenon and Doug's recognition of Huskey. Ya gotta get some Karmic points by way of a few down to the wire victories for MLK's son being part of a Met's ownership group and perhaps a season or two in which the team's health remains intact.

Lucky 7

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