July 3, 2013

Greg Kesich: July Fourth, baseball and an immigrant's welcome to America

There are fine points of a culture that can take a generation or two before they make sense.

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But sometimes, for my benefit, the men would switch over to English and quiz me about this culture that could at times confuse them.

I'd like to think that I could explain baseball to them now. How 90 feet between the bases and 60 feet 6 inches between home plate and the mound were links in the chain that binds us all together -- not only us in the present but to others back through time.

I wish I could have pointed out to them that Lou Pinella in left field played for Billy Martin. And Billy Martin played for Casey Stengel and Casey Stengel played for John J. McGraw and John J. McGraw played for the old Baltimore Orioles in the 1890s -- an unbroken string reaching back a century, of men playing a game before millions and millions of cheering immigrants' kids.

My father and his friends are all gone now, but with tomorrow being the Fourth of July, I imagine that there will be immigrant families around Portland, relaxing by smoldering coals, grilling some meat, celebrating the birthday of a country that they are still getting to know.

And they will turn to their kids -- maybe one wearing a Red Sox cap -- to explain the finer points.


Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or at gkesich@pressherald.com


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