Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

World War II Closure in the Bronx

At Yankee Stadium last night, a young man born in Japan decades after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought joy to, among others, a generation of Americans who fought his ancestors in World War II.

As the Most Valuable Player in this year's World Series, Hideki Matsui joined the pantheon of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other hyphenated Americans of the last century in Yankee lore.

After six years in Yankee uniform, Matsui still needed a translator to express himself about the award but, for older onlookers, there was a feeling of closure at the sight of a new hero of our national pastime who, if he had been here in the 1940s, would not have been playing baseball but would have been sent to an internment camp along with his family.

Back then, the American Melting Pot had sprung a leak as even Joe DiMaggio's parents were among the thousands of immigrants classified as "enemy aliens" after Pearl Harbor who had to carry photo IDs and were not allowed to travel five miles from their home. Jolting Joe's father was barred from the San Francisco Bay, where he had fished for decades, and his boat was seized.

But what used to be the Great American Pastime is global now and perhaps in the future, a young man of Middle East descent will be standing in Yankee Stadium holding up that trophy.

1 comment:

Holte Ender said...

If Americans didn't make friends with old enemies, they wouldn't have many friends, on the spur of the moment, I can only think of one major nation the US has never fought a war with, either hot or cold, and that is France. Freedom Fries not withstanding.

The point you make is a good one, going back to Jackie Robinson, Baseball has led the way.