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The Fruits of Labor

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Courtesy: Milwaukee Public Museum

The picture above was taken in 1909, almost 100 years ago. What is so special about it? Well, it is a mass of people lining up for a baseball game on Labor Day. Baseball on Labor Day and Memorial Day is as American as Apple Pie. Yet tomorrow, only 22 teams will be in action, barely 2/3, and off are your Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The picture above was taken as people lined up for an afternoon minor league game, presumably the Milwaukee Brewers minor league team in the early 1900s. Around this time, Milwaukee was one of the most Blue Collar cities in America. It was truly a worker's town, and this led to the rise to power of such Wisconsin socialists as Robert LaFollete, and the many Milwaukee area leaders who helped conserve the Lake Michigan waterfront for parkland, and further moved along socialist issues.

Anyways, so the point is, the photo represents, in my mind, a city that knows the meaning of Labor using their off day to go to a baseball game. That is truly American. And to see only 2/3 of all MLB teams playing today troubles me. Luckily, for Tampa Bay area viewers, five other games from around the league are being televised, and they are as follows:
FLA @ WSH 1pm FSN Florida
NYM @ ATL 1pm ESPN/TBS
CHC @ STL 2pm WGN
TEX @ MIN 4pm ESPN2
SFG @ LAD 8pm ESPN

So while you are not without baseball, far from it, the Rays not playing tomorrow when they begin a three game set in New York is odd. New York, another All-American city, will be without Labor Day baseball, as the Mets are in Atlants, and the Yankees and Rays don't square off until Tuesday. Milwaukee too, while playing, is not at home., They are in Cincy. Neither Chicago team is in town, but at least the Capital's team is. But at the same time, another great blue-collar city in Pittsburgh is left without baseball as the Pirates are off.

The lack of Labor Day baseball in Steel Belt cities is saddening. When you think of Labor, what do you think of? Rugged, blue-collar factories? You think of tough cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Milwaukee. And when you think of great American places, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago all spring to mind. Seeing some of those cities without Labor Day baseball is like seeing a Peacock without its feathers. Something just isn't right.

Next year, I hope MLB steps in and preserves the history of Labor Day and Memorial Day baseball. Make sure at least one team is home in those cities, and make every team play, all in the afternoon. Because Labor Day is a day to celebrate America's workforce, and baseball should keep with tradition.