The terminology unnecessarily infiltrates baseball writing all the time. We write about how the team survived, about how a pitcher battled, about the hero with the walk-off hit. I’ve done it. My colleagues and competitors have done it. And every time we do, we marginalize the true definitions of those terms. Our heroes – the ones truly in a battle to survive – play not on baseball fields. They serve in foreign lands, accept assignments far from family and willingly shoulder the responsibility of protecting this nation. They are our military members. They are our heroes. They make sacrifices – small and great – that get much less coverage than the local 25.
Yet, there have long been special connections between baseball and the military. We get to see it on days like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, when ballparks across the country pay special tribute to America’s troops and its veterans. But I’m spoiled. I don’t have to wait for stirring pregame tributes or the emotional on-field reunions to reflect and to thank. I just have to check my Inbox.
There is good and bad about being so accessible to readers in today’s online world. I get emails of praise and others of derision. Some write to thank me for my work; others send notes critical of it. The deluge of opinions comes with the territory. I learned that a long time ago. But from time to time, in between the compliments and the complaints, an email trickles in with an address ending in .mil. The contents of those emails are almost always the same.
They typically come from overseas, penned by a member of our military who wants to let someone know how baseball remains their tie to normalcy. They say ‘thank you’ for providing a piece of home – for the stories, the highlights, the anecdotes, the scores. Stripped of comfort in so many other facets of their lives, baseball is something they hold tight to, whether they can watch games or merely read recaps.
I keep a folder with those notes and have maintained correspondence with some of the writers. It forces a reflection on perspective and reminds me that others are sacrificing their lives so that I can do and watch something I love. They may say that baseball means the world to them, but our military members should never forget that their sacrifices stand as so much more significant to us.
This post was brought to you by Jenifer Langosch who is a beat writer for MLB.com
You can follow her on twitter at @LangoschMLB