Baseball in España

August 31, 2010

War is not all shot and shell and go to hell. Infrequently, it’s play. It was on this occasion, when the Lincoln and Washington Brigades got together after Brunete for R and R—and a baseball game.

I was the unofficial athletic director of the ALB, the proud guardian of all the bats and balls and gloves that our friends had shipped over from America and the comrade who discovered an ideal baseball field not far from our rest camp—smooth, hard, big enough to challenge the sluggers and just waiting for somebody to sing: “Take me out to the ball game.”

We dug in the bases, raked out the foul lines and had a memorable game on that wheat field in Spain. The final score, for history’s sake, was Lincoln 2 and Washington 1.

Boycotted the Berlin Olympics, Spain's Popular Front government hosted the alternative "People's Olympics."

On my return to quarters, I was summoned to Steve Nelson’s tent, where we were joined by three unhappy peasants. “Looks like you’re in a lot of trouble, Maynard,” said Steve.

Me? Trouble? What’s up? I played it cool.

Steve pointed to the three men. “They claim that you took over their 100-year-old threshing grounds and converted it into a baseball field. They demand justice and demand your blood.”

Indignantly, I questioned how my blood could possibly repair their field.

“It can’t,” replied Steve grimly. “But your sweat can.”

And it did. Under the vigilant direction of the peasants, our triumphant baseball team worked its collective butts off to finally bring the field back to a resemblance of its smooth self.

But we never played baseball again in España.

Maynard Goldstein is a veteran of  the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.