Kids First: Play ball during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Island Now
Andrew Malekoff

By Andrew Malekoff

In the spirit of baseball fun and advancing our emotional wellness, I was thinking about the fact that there are no fans in the stands.

Instead, some stadiums have replaced fans with what appear to be pandemic era cardboard cutout figures in the stands. I understand that if you pay a hundred dollars or so, you can put your own image in a seat?

Here’s an idea: as long as we are doling the cash, couldn’t we have more of a choice?

Why couldn’t we pay for cut-outs of our own choosing; for example, people who we love and admire, or that we simply have a fascination with, who have passed on and who we might like to see in the stands during a game. The camera could zoom in on them during breaks in the action.

For example, put Murderers Row from the 1927 Yankees in the stands – Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. Or, past presidents like TR and Lincoln; and organized crime figures like Al Capone, Owney Madden, Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano.

What about historical figures like Genghis Kahn, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry the Eighth and Che Guevara? And labor leaders like Cesar Chavez, Marvin Miller, Jimmy Hoffa and Delores Huerta.

And, then there’s civil rights leaders and reformers like MLK, John Lewis and Rosa Parks. And, of course, abolitionist Harriet Tubman. If they won’t put her on a twenty-dollar bill we can at least give her a reserved seat at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

And, why not give Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman their place in the sun, alongside James Meredith and the Kennedy brothers; with box seats for Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair and Addie Mae Collins – the four little girls killed in the 1963 church bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Why not invite writers Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, James Baldwin, Agatha Christie, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou and muckraker Upton Sinclair.

Naturally, we’d invite former Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison; actresses Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Shirley Temple and Liz Taylor; human rights activists Eleanor Roosevelt and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jane Addams; prize fighters Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey.

And, we’d rip out a few seats, for sure, to make room for Andre the Giant.

We’d find seats for Charlie Chapman, Buster Keaton, WC Fields and Sam Kinison. And, why not great characters like Mighty Mouse and Bugs Bunny, along with Roger & Jessica Rabbit, Boris & Natasha, Rocky & Bullwinkle and Crusader Rabbit & Ragland T. Tiger.

Oh yeah, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles and Sergio Leone in the stands at each of the four bases for a full perspective.

And, don’t forget SNL’s Andy Kaufman, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, John Candy and Chris Farley.

We could jazz up the stands with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

We’d put Ginger Baker in the bleachers to perform drum solos between innings.

Add some rhythm and blues with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko.

We would fill the rest of the seats with the thousands who died on 9/11.

And, what would any game be, especially in New York, without Red Barber, Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto, Ralph Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy cutouts in the booth, alongside Bob Sheppard and John Facenda, the “voice of God”, at the announcers’ table.

Now, that’s a crowd would make for a fun audience, and a great seventh inning stretch rendition of “Take me out to the ballgame.”

Who would you add?

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