The Silver Lining Playbook: Take Me Out to/of the Ball Game
The hot topic of the past two days has been the departure of the Savannah Sand Gnats for the bright lights of Columbia, marking the second time in the past week that a major player in their field has jumped the fence to South Cackalacky. Hundreds of people were pissed. Hundreds more were disappointed. And a bunch more took delight in finding something else to complain about. Few, however, came along with suggestions that might keep Hardball Capital from throwing us out of the game when City Hall dropped the ball.
Interested parties will ask me, "What would Mayor Murray do?" Before I answer that question, a little background first: Seven generations of my family have lived in Savannah, and all of us loved baseball. My grandfather routinely hosted visiting players at his bar and pool hall on their way to and from spring training, and my father was part of the group of young local businessmen that founded little league in the early 1950's, when teams were sponsored by Starland Dairies and First Federal.
In the early Sixties I played on a team sponsored by Chatham Steel that won the city championship, and I remember my father taking me to Grayson Stadium to see exhibitions when Pete Rose and Ken Harrelson were new to the game. So, yeah, Silvers were fans and we continue to live and die with the New York Yankees. And at least two or three times each season, I make my way over to Daffin Park to watch the boys play a game in which anything can happen and most likely will: I remind the reader that the Gnats are the only team in the history of baseball to win a game without getting a single hit, having scored on walks and errors.
Sport Editor Tom Coffey, left, and Assistant Sports Editor Richard Conley in a 1958 photo taken at Grayson Stadium
Tenants of our graying Grayson have been begging for improvements for a long time and the last demanded new digs in a town that is forsworn to protect and preserve historic buildings and where few have seen more history than the stadium. The game itself has a romantic history and a cinematic one that celebrates the field of dreams in movies like Bull Durham and A League of Their Own. If nowhere else, the game of baseball should be played in an old stadium in the nation's largest urban historic district, especially in a town where the few fans of the game can't afford a pricey ticket. As far as I'm concerned, Major League Baseball has far more funds for building and development than the City of Savannah, and if a semi-pro team wants a new stadium then I think MLB ought to ante up. After all, it's their product on the field and costs can be recouped by selling off the name of the stadium to a beer company that can recoup their investment by taking over the taps. The City partners in the project by providing roads, utilities, protection, parking and other services. In the end, everybody makes out alright-- they always do-- and, like the game itself, there is a certain fairness to the proceedings.
Historic Grayson Stadium, like it's home of Savannah, has seen history and made some along the way. It has had legends such as Shoeless Joe Jackson
Fans of the Gnats, do not despair. The game is not gone for good from Grayson. Give me five months to work out this election thing and your new council will sit down with Major League Baseball and argue balls and strikes. We'll spruce up the old ballpark and roll out a summer concert series and make Daffin the happenin' place in midtown.