August 26, 2005

Buy me some peanuts...

Today's "New Yorker of the Week," per our local all-"news" station is a guy who has formed a nonprofit organization to send baseballs and baseball equipment to the Dominican Republic.

When I was growing up, major league baseballs were all made in Haiti. Every time we left the Port-au-Prince airport to head for the beach, we passed the factories, or, to be more precise, the assembly plants.

You could have thrown the balls over the Dominican border, as it shares the island of Hispanola with Haiti, if you were really interested in propagating baseball as a Dominican pastime.

Say what you will about how the workers were exploited. The fact is, sewing baseballs was a job, a good, steady job, in a country that didn't provide many. In the poorest country in the western hemisphere, plants for assembling baseballs, denim jeans, or racks of cards of buttons and hand embroidery (that being my family's business) all offered opportunities for employment.

That was then; this is now. Political upheaval has taken those jobs and tossed them. For us, the end was Bush the father's embargo on importing Haitian-made goods in September 1991. For Rawlings, the baseball manufacturer, it was pretty close.

Now the baseballs are made in Costa Rica -- one country that the U.S. has never invaded. Soccer is their national sport. Baseball never touched anyone's interest there. It only appears to be a popular sport in countries where the U.S. has intervened.

According to that theory, the Iraqis should be starting spring training in about March.


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