Three years ago, I was told I would not be able to throw a baseball for the rest of my life. After visiting countless baseball surgeon specialists for weeks, I was finally scheduled for surgery. My elbow joint had totally separated, and I was faced with fourteen months of grueling rehab just to throw a ball again. It wasn’t the fame or dream of college baseball that kept me going, it was simply the freedom to play baseball.
I believe baseball to be one of the ultimate symbols of American freedom and optimism. Baseball stands for everything our constitution protects: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is nothing better in this world than being on that mound or in that batters box, thinking you own that guy staring directly at you, knowing you can succeed. This sport goes hand in hand with the ‘American Dream.’ You can do anything and be anyone with perseverance, determination, and hard work, no matter who tries to put you down.
Not only does baseball bring a feeling of extreme personal freedom, but also its influences are worldwide. Other nations look at America to set the standard in baseball, and it has since been called “America’s Pastime.” Since 1839 when Abner Doubleday first thought of hitting a handmade ball with a stick, baseball has been there for America when the country needed it most.
September 11th, 2001 was one of the most horrific attacks on our nations freedom. The New York Yankees and New York Mets were the first to play in honor of our fallen countrymen, while millions watched the teary-eyed fans sing “God Bless America” in the stands. Baseball brought New York City together. Baseball kept us going. Even in our current economic downfall, which has led to increased depression and bankruptcy, baseball has kept our minds off of our daily grueling lives, and has kept us going.
Most importantly, in 1947 Jackie Robinson was the first to break the color barrier in professional sports and debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This ultimate form of freedom is what America represents, and what our country is all about.
While facing an incurable disease, Lou Gehrig stood in front of a packed Yankee Stadium, and while he was totally overwhelmed with emotion and love for the game said, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”