Randy Smith: Baseball And Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Memorial Day 2020 is in the books and it was one of the very best holidays I have ever spent. All of my kids and grandkids came to our house. They swam from noon until after 8 p.m., hardly getting out of the pool to eat at all. My son Davey has become quite the chef and he prepared smoked chickens and ribs on the smoker. My daughter Christi made her usual fabulous dishes including key lime pie balls, and my wife Shelia prepared homemade peanut butter ice cream and a bucket of fresh strawberry ice cream as well. It was one of the most fun-filled days I have spent in years. Then I came to the realization that, for the first time in my life, there was no baseball on Memorial Day.

On May 30 of 1880, the Boston Red Stockings held on for an 11-10 win over the Rockford Forest Citys.
That game started a streak of at least one baseball game on Memorial Day for 140 consecutive years. The streak was broken by the coronavirus yesterday. There has been no definitive plan as to when Major League Baseball will return in 2020 but the latest reports are saying early to mid-July if at all. Plans are being made on many levels to re-open sports but again there is nothing definitive. NASCAR is running a few races at empty racetracks but that's about it.

Not even the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression or World War II could take baseball away from us on Memorial Day. For 140 years, baseball has been an important part of our Memorial Day Celebration. But I never really noticed baseball was missing yesterday until I read a post on Facebook that the streak of 140 years was over, thanks to Covid-19.

Memorial Day was not started for baseball, nor was it started for pool parties and barbecue. It was started to honor the servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives defending our country. The holiday was known as Decoration Day until it officially became Memorial Day in 1971.  It has always been very special to me because of the legacy of servicemen in my family. My father served in World War II along with two of his brothers. One of them died a hero in France in 1944 when he fell on a grenade, sparing the lives of many of his comrades. There was a younger brother who fought in the Korean War and was severely wounded. I always wondered how my grandmother was able to deal with the tragedy of losing a child to war.

Baseball will be back, though we don't really know when. But Memorial Day will always be with us and the memories of those who died valiantly serving our country will remain etched in our minds forever. That's just the way it should be.

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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