There would have been no Joy if Mrs. Cartwright had her say
THE pilgrims made their way to their sacred site yet again, yesterday, gathering at Oahu Cemetery to celebrate what will be Alexander Joy Cartwright's 187th birthday nine days from today.
(Because the Cartwright family is planning an upcoming service there, the pilgrims held their celebration from a distance, out of respect, even leaning over to place a lei on the headstone, so as not to walk on the Cartwright grass.)
Once again, the occasion brought gladness. This is an annual tradition now. For Hawaii's most dedicated seamheads, Cartwright's birthday at the cemetery is officially baseball's second opening day.
They wore their caps, brought gloves and bats. They were kids again, celebrating this man. The man who first invented baseball, who codified the rules, who served as the first umpire that long ago day at Elysian Fields.
Yes, he's here. He's ours. Baseball's inventor moved here, became Hawaii's first fire chief, an ambassador, a library builder, a big shot in those Monarchy days.
Yesterday, the pilgrims stood up and talked about what it meant to them to come to this sacred place, what baseball has meant in their lives. One talked of his greatest memory, just playing catch with his dad. They all had something. It was beautiful.
Cartwright had given them this.
But all this is in retrospect, of course. I can't help but wonder what Alexander Joy Cartwright's mother thought, in that summer of 1846.
We can only imagine ...
"Ma? Ma! I'll be home late. Me and the boys are going out to New Jersey."
"New Jersey? Alexander Joy Cartwright, why don't you go out and get a job? A fire chief. You'd make a great fire chief."
"Not now, Ma, we're working on a new game, it's the most fun I've ever had. You take a ball, yeah, and throw it at a guy holding a stick, and ... stop sighing, Ma. I've been working on this -- what do you think, 90 feet between the bases, nine players on a team, nine innings?"
"Shouldn't that be 'outings'? Alexander you should go to Hawaii. They have a king there. If you became friends with the king you could be anything -- you could be consul to Peru!"
"Not now, Ma. This is important. Today's the first real, official game, out at Elysian Fields."
"Oh, Elysian Fields. Just call it Hoboken like everybody else! Out running around with sticks, playing base-whatever. Come on, Alexander. You should go out to Hawaii and make something of yourself."
"Ma! Forget it, I've made up all these rules, all the guys think this is the coolest thing ever, I'm going to be the game-supervisor guy today. Lay off Hawaii for one day -- baseball, baseball, baseball!"
"That's it, son. Three strikes. You're out."
"Ma, I -- hey, can I use that?"