Good morning, all! I hope your weekend is going well.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a time of reflection and remembering those who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms; preserve the right of free speech; preserve the right to attend a ballgame; preserve the right for me to publish this newsletter. I can go on and on.
I think of so many things on Memorial Day, especially those who died, wearing the uniform of my country. I remember on a constant basis - not just on Memorial Day - the visit I made, along with many of the listeners to my radio program, to the beaches in Normandy, France, location of the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944. Walking the cemetery grounds - considered USA soil - one is overcome with emotion. How can you not be? The photo below this piece is one of the many I took the day we visited.
On Sunday, my hometown newspaper, The Sunday Republican, included an excellent story about the 14th Connecticut Volunteers, my home state's regiment that fought so bravely in every major battle of the Civil War, including Antietam and Gettysburg. The focus was on Sgt. Alexander McNeil of Waterbury and how he was probably buried in a mass grave in Salisbury, N.C., the site of a National Cemetery.
The cemetery was the location of a prison for Union soldiers captured by the South. As the author Martin Begnal writes, in the early years of the prison, Union soldiers were allowed to come and go as they pleased, given passes to go into town.
Begnal also references baseball, writing: "One of the earliest images of baseball being played is a watercolor of a game between Union soldiers at Salisbury Prison." The image was from the summer of 1862.
By 1864, the prison population had swelled to more than three times its allotted size. Many prisoners died from illness and were "Heaped up like cordwood" before being moved to mass burial grounds on the location.
We can never imagine what it was like, no matter how much reading we do. We must never forget. On this Memorial Day, pause to take a moment to remember. Thank you.
Weather really not that unusual
Across the nation this Memorial Day weekend, the weather has not been great. In my neck of the woods (Connecticut), it has rained, it is windy and the temperatures are running 30 degrees below normal. The elements are certainly raising havoc with the baseball schedule. But as I do my research for the latest episode of my podcast Baseball Sixty One, the weather in late May of 1961 was similar to what we are enduring now.
On the weekend before Memorial Day 60 years ago, the Yankees had back-to-back games at Yankee Stadium rained out against the Chicago White Sox. The weather was horrible around the country with other games rained out. In New York temperatures struggled to make it to 50 degrees.
And speaking of struggles, the 1961 New York Yankees were also struggling. Sound familiar? Entering a Memorial Day game at Fenway Park, the Bronx Bombers were anything but, trailing the first place Detroit Tigers by five games and only four games over .500. In other words, as of this writing, they were worse off than the 2021 New York Yankees, who cannot hit their way out of a paper bag and are six games over .500 and 3 1/2 games out of first place.
To be honest, however, you would have had to like the long range prediction for the 1961 Yankees compared to the 2021 Yankees. Just saying.
NBA and NHL must love it
Speaking of the weather, the NBA and NHL playoffs usually score well in the television ratings, but league executives have to be ecstatic with the terrible weather in many locations. When it is sunny and in the 80s, casual fans are outdoors enjoying the weather, rather than glued to their TV sets or even streaming devices. My hunch is the unseasonably cold and wet weather, has many people inside watching the playoffs, especially in the New York, Boston and Philadelphia markets. I'll be interested to check the ratings.
Well that is it for today. I will be taking a few days off from the newsletter with the hope of returning on June 9. It is nothing urgent, just taking a little break. As always, thank you for your support and be well.