Why time didn’t begin on Wednesday, but still has a chance this June



Last Wednesday was opening day of the Major League Baseball season.  In years past, I would have secretly listened to my team’s first game during work hours, then turned on the MLB Network to capture the highlights that evening.

From 1969 until 2019, opening day had a magical quality about it for me and millions of other baseball fans who had the fortune of growing up when baseball was mostly about competition and entertainment. Baseball author Thomas Boswell wrote a book called Why Time Begins On Opening Day, and the title made perfect sense to people like me. 

If you haven’t sensed it already, I’m a baseball geek.  Baseball was my first true love, something my wife has understood for almost 31 years now.  Borrowing from the movie “Diner,” my bride-to-be had to pass a baseball trivia quiz before we could start ordering bouquets and booking a minister.  


The only World Series I missed occurred in 1982, and that’s because I was in Marine Corps boot camp at the time.  Knowing the Fall Classic was occurring without me, and desperate for news of it, I took the rather courageous but idiotic chance of inquiring of my Senior Drill Instructor what the situation was with the Series.

“Sir, Private Barto requests permission to speak to Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant James, Sir.”

“What is it, Barton.”

“Sir, Private Barto would like to know what is happening in the World Series, Sir.”

“How did you know I liked baseball, Bartaloo?”

“Sir, Barto, Sir.  The private did not know this information, Sir.”

“Hell yeah, Barrett. I pitched in the minor leagues.  Would’ve made it to the big leagues if I hadn’t injured my arm.”

“Sir, that was certainly a bad break, Sir, and the private is truly saddened to hear about it.  But the Series, Sir—”

“Had a helluva curve.  Probably what did my arm in.  But the Marines took me in.  Aren’t you happy the Marines took me in, Baratta?”

“Sir, of course, Sir.  About the Series, though, what—” 

“Don’t have time to watch baseball while I’m trying to make Marines out of you useless . . .”

At this point the conversation devolved into a bunch of yelling and cursing, and push-ups and bend-and-thrusts.  I was clear my dredging up memories of lost glory on the baseball diamond had hit a nerve with the Senior DI. 

But such has been my obsession with the national pastime.

So, why then, did this lifelong fan of the game not care to tune in this past Wednesday?  Why hadn’t I done the usual poring over baseball magazines, analyzing each team and making predictions for how they would perform?    

Because in 2020, MLB opted to align their multi-billion dollar business with the self-proclaimed social activists who spent the summer burning buildings, looting businesses, and maligning police officers.  

MLB didn’t just allow kneeling during the National Anthem, they encouraged it; and they replied with harsh, self-righteous indignation to those of us who tried to inform them they were losing lifelong fans as a result.

So, unless MLB gets out of the social activism business and stops honoring those who dishonor the flag that many of us hold dear and have had the honor of presenting to families of fallen service members, then I am done with them.  

And it breaks my heart.  And MLB doesn’t care.

But there is other baseball that will satisfy my addiction.  The five-team Alaska Baseball League (ABL) is scheduled to open the first week of June and play through the first week of August.  

The ABL has a long history of being one of the best summer collegiate programs in the nation. Hall-of-Famers Tom Seaver, Dave Winfield, and Randy Johnson spent summers playing ball up here, as have dozens of other players who went on to garner my envy and actually get paid to play the game.

Covid killed the 2020 season, but the 2021 rosters are already pretty much set for each team.  Still, there are some issues that have to be dealt with in order for the crack of the bat (it is a genuine wood bat league, after all) to be heard come June.  

The number one obstacle is the Municipality of Anchorage.  The same restrictive measures that closed businesses, killed jobs, and devastated our local economy, now threaten good, clean, family fun at the ballpark.  

Social distancing guidelines, concession sale restrictions, required proof of Covid tests and/or vaccinations, and a general opposition, if not outright contempt, for sports activities in Anchorage are putting the season at risk.

The Mat-Su Miners and Peninsula Oilers are good to go, but the three teams within the Anchorage Municipality – the Bucs, Pilots, and Chinooks – cannot play if the Municipality continues putting up obstacles.  That would mean a second consecutive year without baseball in Alaska and, many of us fear, it will put in jeopardy the future of our historic league.

Please, Anchorage, care enough to do the right thing and clear the way for the 2021 ABL season to happen. 

Tim Barto is a VP with the Alaska Policy Forum, and President of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Booster Club.  His wife, by the way, aced that pre-nuptial baseball quiz.


  1. The MLB is playing the long game. They know that the future of the league depends on attracting the younger people to the game. MLB knows that the majority of their players are minorities. They can not really go wrong with their approach to the problems with racism in the country.

    They can count and they know that their will be fewer and fewer angry white guys around to complain.

    We all know that conservatives believe that only their opinion matters and all the folks that actually play the game do not deserve an opinion on racism in this country. It is not hard to figure out why they protest. You know “shut up and play the game”

    Sure they will piss off a segment of their fan base but we have seen time and time again in all sports new fans come along to replace those that claim to never be involved in their chosen sport again which we know does not last.

  2. Miners fan here, and my family regularly attends Miners-Chinooks contests in Chugiak (but I just don’t feel the need to go to Mulcahy Park). I’ve even watched the Miners in Kenai a couple times. I fully expect Anchorage politicians to blow this season simply because they can, despite the fact that by June all Alaskans who want the vaccine will have had the opportunity to have gotten it.

  3. “Angry white guys”? Who has been burning up the urban areas? They aren’t angry? They destroy for fun? Let MLB play their long game. This indifferent white guy (with 47% sub-Saharan African DNA) is in the bottom of his 8th inning, anyway. Ya’ll can inherit this screwed up world. I’m pretty much tired of it.

  4. Article on target. From the MLB to the ABL. Anchorage political bias is killing Anchorage business and taking the ABL with them. The ABL is an elite wood bat summer baseball league. Competition for talented college players grows yearly. Losing one season was damaging but losing 2 seasons could be unrecoverable. The ABL is good for up and coming ball players. It’s good for Alaska Baseball fans and it’s good for Alaska. Let the boys play!!

  5. Your story reminds me of one of the proudest days of my life. My wife is from Missouri, and one summer, years back, we travelled down there to visit with family and friends. My brother-in-law had season tickets for the Royals, and he invited us to a game.

    If you have ever been to a major leage stadium, you know how it is just prior to the first pitch. Pandemonium. Everyone shuffling around finding their seats, buying hot dogs, beers, sodas and momentos. There is a buzz that fills the air with excitement and anticipation, and it is loud.

    On this day, as the moment approached, the announcer came over the loudspeaker and said, “Please rise for our National Anthem”, and suddenly everything stopped. I kid you not. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, regardless of their position at their seat, in the swag shop, or even in line for the bathroom, removed their hats and stood at attention. There was silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Even the babies stopped crying.

    As I then stood there and listened to our National Anthem being sung, I was overwhelmed by the pride and repect being shown by my fellow Americans at a simple baseball game. It literally moved me to tears. On that day, I was the proudest American on the face of the earth.

  6. Andrew, your story reminds me of one of my own. We had tickets to an M’s game shortly after 9/11. Due to that tragedy all games were postponed. When play resumed we caught the plane down for the first game. I had tickets for a group of us including two friends who are now passed. I don’t remember the details of the game ( maybe a few brews) except for one. The seventh inning stretch they played Ray Charles ” America The Beautiful”. There was not a dry eye in the packed stadium. Just writing this chokes me up a bit. God Bless America and God bless baseball.

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