Culture

Baseball Rewrites Its Own History to Make It Woke

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Not content with adding a section of race-baiting, victimhood propaganda, and Communist agitprop to its website last year, Major League Baseball this year moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta for the crime of asking for ID’s to vote. And so it comes as no real surprise that Baseball Reference, the principal online repository for nearly 150 years of baseball statistics, has now begun rewriting its own history to remove player nicknames that don’t suit woke sensibilities. What’s next? Adjusting each year’s World Series winners based on the political preferences of each team’s players? In this age of absurdity, anything is possible.

Baseball Reference has the lifetime year-by-year statistics for every man who has ever played Major League Baseball, including, up until recently, Chief Bender, Chief Meyers, Dummy Hoy, and Nig Cuppy. You won’t find those players in their database anymore, however; you won’t find them at all unless you know their given names, as now they’re listed as Charles Bender, Jack Meyers, Billy Hoy, and George Cuppy.

That’s progress, right? Why should these men continue to be referred to by these demeaning nicknames, right? Well, the main reason is because that is really how they were known when they played, and that matters. History is not what we wish it to be; it is what it was. It might be nice and woke to claim that the South was shamed out of slavery by critical race theory education in public schools, and so no Civil War was necessary, but that’s not what happened, and to change the record of history to suit modern sensibilities is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes.

Controlling the past means revising it. In 1984, Winston Smith’s job is to change the content of old newspapers so that history always reflects and confirms the current situation: “For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother, in his speech of the previous day, had predicted that the South Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa. As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened.”

In baseball, what actually happened is that a hundred years ago and more, some players were known by nicknames that many people would find offensive today. And this was not simply a matter of minority players having to endure the unkindness of their peers and the fans, as the Baseball Reference wonks might have us believe. The totalitarian revision of Baseball Reference is not yet perfected, and so still bear uncomfortable traces of the sensibilities of earlier ages. As of this writing, the statistics of Dummy Hoy, who was called that because he could not hear or speak, still link to the Society for American Baseball Research’s biography of the man, which notes that Hoy “referred to himself as ‘Dummy’ and politely corrected those who, for whatever reason, called him ‘William.’”

Chief Meyers, now known as Jack for today’s woke baseball fans, tells the heartbreaking story in Lawrence Ritter’s immortal The Glory of Their Times about rooming with his fellow Native American, Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe, when they both played for the old New York Giants baseball team. Thorpe’s medals were taken from him when it was discovered that he had played baseball professionally before the Olympics, which devastated Thorpe. Meyers recounts a time when Thorpe awakened him in the middle of the night: “‘You know, Chief,’ he said, ‘the King of Sweden gave me those trophies, he gave them to me. But they took them away from me, even though the guy who finished second refused to take them. They’re mine, Chief, I won them fair and square.’ It broke his heart, and he never really recovered.”

Now wait a minute. Why did Thorpe call Meyers “Chief”? Was Thorpe a “racist”? Was he trying to demean Meyers? Of course not. Thorpe and Meyers were both American Indians. But they were also mature adults, a quantity that is in short supply today. They didn’t get offended by nicknames. It probably never occurred to them to do so.

This little act of historical revisionism couldn’t be in a less important arena. It’s just a game. But it is a reflection of the way in which the winds are blowing. If Facebook can ban the president of the United States for not toeing their line, they can and will ban any dissident. And if baseball can rewrite its own history to reflect the petty little prejudices and hatreds of our own insane age, any history can and will be rewritten. For history does not exist for its own sake: “who controls the past controls the future,” as Orwell observed. When our history is completely obliterated, our statues all torn down, our heroes and our heritage impugned and rejected, and we stand defenseless before those who would control every aspect of our lives, some may remember that the demise of Chief Meyers and Dummy Hoy was a little signpost pointing in the direction we were headed.