blank, empty plaques
reminder to remember
the why, the reason
In the Old Chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, there are granite shields on the wall.
Each shield displays the name and rank of each of the Generals that served in the United States War of Independence.
One those shields is blank.
Its is blank on purpose.
It is a shield in remembrance of Major General Benedict Arnold.
A man who served and fought on our side in the Revolution.
A man who played a major role in the fighting in the American victory over the Red Coats at the Battle of Saratoga.
A man promoted to Major General by George Washington.
A man whose name now is used to describe another as a traitor and turncoat.
Arnold sold out.
For his rank and efforts before he switched sides, Arnold still gets a plaque in the Old Chapel.
For his acts and deeds, Arnold’s name has been removed from the plaque.
When anyone asks why the plaque is blank, Arnold’s story is told.
Where am I going with this?
Once again Pete Rose is trying to get into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Above almost any player, based on what any player did on the playing field, Pete Rose has earned a place in the Hall of Fame.
Because of what he did off the field, well, check that as he it appears Pete was BETTING on GAMES from the playing field or at least the dug out.
Anyway, Pete sold out.
For me, it isn’t so much that Pete was banned for the rest of life from Major League Baseball for betting.
It is because of WHO delivered this judgement.
I always liked A. Bartlett Giamatti.
When I discovered his essay, short book, Take Time for Paradise, I liked him even more.
Giamatti wrote. “If we have known freedom, then we love it; it we love freedom, then we fear, at some level (individually or collectively) its loss. And then we cherish sport. As our forbears did, we remind ourselves through sport of what, here on earth, is our noblest hope. Through sport, we create our daily portion of freedom.”
And about baseball, he wrote, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”
It was as Baseball Commissioner that Giamatti banned Pete Rose from baseball.
Banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
At the time, Rose agreed with the judgement as it stopped the investigation.
Point of view changes.
As Rose himself said once, “How you going to keep all those hits out of the hall?”
Is it time to forgive and forget and put Rose in the Hall?
And Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and all the 1919 Chicago White Sox?
I do think Rose deserves a plaque in the hall.
Maybe all these guys.
A nice blank, empty plaque.
Let people see the plaque.
Let people ask who the plaque is for.
Let people hear the story of why the plaque is blank.
A blank, empty plaque.
A reminder to remember.