Bill Veeck probably meant that to be humorous. After all, his autobiography is titled, Veeck, as in Wreck. He was once an owner of the Cleveland Indians, who are always good for a chuckle. And as owner of the St. Louis Browns (Yes, there were non-Cleveland Browns, and yes, they played baseball) franchise, he is famous for sending a midget (No, not a “little person.” My aunt, who was 4’10” tall was a little person; this guy was 3’7”) named Eddie Gaedel, wearing uniform number 1/8, to bat. He walked on four pitches. You have to wonder how a showman like Veeck would handle snow on the day before opening day. I could see a special promotional ice scraper event. Or how about souvenir Pirate “Grand Slalom” skis? Maybe a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a Pirate great of yesteryear with “Dave Parka” Day?
The big leaguers will survive the weather, though. It’s more of a problem for the Little League and Pony League participants, and by participants I mean moms. The kids will keep warm by running around on the field or cutting up in the dugout. The dads will keep warm by bellowing inane instructions to Junior and berating the umpires. The umpires will stay warm by vigorously whisk-brooming the plate and yelling “Steee-rike.” But the moms will just sit in the stands and freeze. It’s probably something that Gloria Steinem should have worked on if she wasn’t so busy complaining about women actresses only making 67 million for every 100 million Leonard DiCaprio makes. (He was born in L.A., and his father’s name is George. So he’s Leonard.) Shouldn’t moms feel free to bellow stuff and abuse the umpires? Wait, they do? Well alright then. Let’s move on to why baseball is not a cold weather sport.
Not only is there not a lot of running in baseball, sometimes there’s not a lot of movement. A fielder can play three or four innings without having a ball hit anywhere near him. Sure you run to first and if you’re lucky enough to get there, you may run to second. Sure you may need to run to catch a grounder or a fly ball. But none of this exertion occurs with any regularity and there is a reason for this: it’s supposed to be hot. The classic book on baseball is The Boys of Summer. Summer, as in the totally hottest season of the year. People at day games fill out scorecards and work crossword puzzles while kibitzing with other fans. There are few if any “waves” because you could get all sweaty jumping up and down like that. There is no confrontational chanting of “Defense.” Everyone cheerfully sings “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.
The relative lethargy of the game is best illustrated by baseball’s dissolute, beer-soaked, cigar smoking uncle, softball. Softball can be played by as many as nine fielders, a series of batters and an umpire, all morbidly obese and all holding red solo cups of lager. Without spilling any. Even when they slide. That’s what made this country great, son. Now pull on your snowsuit and let’s play ball!