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May 10, 2003

What About Faith?

Ebbets Field - Ancestral Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers (both now deceased)

Faith is a good thing to have. I once had faith in the Brooklyn Dodgers. As a preschooler, I was taken by my father to see Dem Bums play in Ebbets Field. There was no option as to which team to root for in that ballpark. In Brooklyn, being a Dodger fan was essential for acceptance, and perhaps even for survival.

My faith was severely tested throughout the late '40s and early '50s, in a succession of World Series confrontations with the cross-town rivals. We had moved to the Left Coast in 1941, and it seemed to me that the California public schools were populated with hordes of drooling New York Yankee fans. In an epic struggle that lasted a decade, the hated Yankees almost taught me to enjoy the taste of crow. I learned how to say "Wait 'til next year" with a straight face, while swallowing the tears.

By the time the Bums finally prevailed in 1955, I had already graduated from high school and was denied any pay back. Then, The One Whose Name Must Never Be Spoken gave in to the Dark side and ripped the Dodgers from the Breast of Brooklyn so that they might play in a ravine in Southern California for more money. So much for faith in sport.


"But what kind of faith?" he asked. "Not a faith in absolutes. Not a religious kind of faith. A faith only in possibility, a faith not that we will know something, finally, but a faith in not knowing, a faith in our ignorance, a faith in our being confounded and dumbfounded, as something fertile with possible meaning and growth. . . ."

Kirk Varnedoe
from the Mellon Lectures
as reported by Adam Gopnik
in The New Yorker, May 10, 2004

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