The Island

Elysium Island is based on a concept of the afterlife created by ancient Greeks.

Initially, admission was reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. This later expanded to include those chosen by the gods, along with the righteous, and the heroic. All would remain here after death, to live a blessed and happy life, indulging in what pleased them in life.

At Elysium Island, we welcome and recognize all heroes, with particular attention to those related to freedom, and baseball.

Why freedom and baseball?

Baseball, like freedom, is transcendent. The game is not played against a clock, but creates its own time frame; its base lines stretch out, seemingly to infinity. Roger Angell, one of the major metaphysicians of the sport: “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do … is keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain young forever.”

Freedom, like baseball, is about “self-responsibility.” You are responsible for your thoughts, actions, and decisions, for your life. In baseball, you are responsible for hitting, throwing, catching, pitching. No matter how much or who else may be involved, the results of what you do always, eventually come back to you. No other person can hit the ball for you.

Freedom is about choosing your direction. You can interfere with another’s speed or direction, but each individual decides on where they are going, how they behave. Each person chooses the life they lead.

Baseball is about finality; going “home.”  There is no retreat. All is forward. Freedom must be final, too.

“If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”   –Calvin Coolidge

Baseball makes allowances for, even anticipates, human weakness and fallibility. As former commissioner Fay Vincent said: “What other game includes errors as one of the line items? We know people are going to make errors.” What other sport acknowledges that?

Baseball and freedom highly prize certain human values such as accuracy, a quick mind, and the ability to respond quickly to the unexpected. And it acknowledges violence as part of human behavior and causes such drives to be acted out (usually) in a civilized fashion. Thomas Boswell wrote that “the ancient inherited desire for thudding force … has descended to the baseball bat …. Of all the inanimate objects in sports … none is so intensely personal, so surrounded by lore as the ubiquitous Louisville slugger.”

And yet in winning, there is honor to the loser. Freedom knows that yesterday’s loser may be tomorrow’s winner.

Baseball, like freedom, is saturated with narrative, anecdote and history as the means of fostering identity and a community of continuity and memory. It offers leaders of the past, both saints and sinners, as heroes and cautions to each new generation.

And baseball too, like freedom, has functioned as an (eventual) integrating factor in American life. Those at the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder have often made their own mark and a place of pride for their people.

Even if baseball is not unique in the global analysis, writers have given it a pride of place. It still has hold of millions of patrons. It is our leisure, our culture; it has special resonance.

“Born to an age where horror has become commonplace, where tragedy has, by its monotonous repetition, become a parody of sorrow, we need to fence off a few parks where humans try to be fair, where skill has some hope of reward, where absurdity has a harder time than usual getting a ticket.”  –Thomas Boswell


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: