It is October, and the World Series is on the way. As a Yankee fan, I was disappointed this year–not just in the final results. It was a difficult season for Yankee fans, but even disappointing baseball is better than no baseball at all. I think Walt Whitman would have agreed with me, and to celebrate both Whitman and the Series, let me introduce readers to Horace Traubel.
Traubel and his family knew Walt Whitman later in his life when they all lived in Camden, New Jersey. After Whitman died in 1892, Traubel put together the four-volume collection titled With Walt Whitman in Camden. Again and again, the subject of “base ball” comes up. Walt Whitman loved the game, and Whitman’s words are always inspiring when he writes about “the game.” In Volume 2:
Base-ball is our game: the American game: I connect it with our national character. Sports take people out of doors, get them filled with oxygen generate some of the brutal customs (so-called brutal customs) which, after all, tend to habituate people to a necessary physical stoicism. We are some ways a dyspeptic, nervous set: anything which will repair such losses may be regarded as a blessing to the race. We want to go out and howl, swear, run, jump, wrestle, even fight, if only by so doing we may improve the guts of the people: the guts, vile as guts are, divine as guts are!
and in Volume 4:
Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic! That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! well—it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.
No matter who you cheer for all season long, try to catch a game of the 2021 Series. Because, of course, baseball is just as important as our American Constitution, our laws, and the sum total of our historic lives. Walt said so.