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Roy Campanella

Roy Campanella

No, I am not supporting the Toronto Blue Jays notwithstanding the fact that the CBC and the Vancouver Sun tell me I should. Perhaps it’s that, in part, that keeps me from supporting them.

Being a sports fan of a particular team is utterly irrational. When I was a child I became a Habs fan and I had never been to Montreal. I just hated the Toronto Maple Leafs who used the CBC (whom I have never forgiven) as a propaganda machine for the notion that failure to support the Leafs was an act of disloyalty. There was a strong streak of anti-French in that attitude and I was scarcely the only Vancouver kid to pick that up. We were forced to listen exclusively to the Leafs by the CBC until into the 1950’s and 60’s and the resentment stuck. Therefore, myirrationality has me detesting Toronto teams and the Blue Jays are no exception.

(Incidentally, I have never played a game of hockey in my life having never learned to skate, there being no ice.)

Much more than all this, I am a lifetime devoted baseball fan. I believe it to be the best game in the world by far and those who disagree simply haven’t taken the time to understand the game, preferring more uncomplicated exercises like soccer.

Like all kids, I selected my team which was and remains (with one slight falter) the Dodgers. I grew up with the Boys Of Summer and revelled in the success of Jackie, Campy, Pee Wee, Gil, the Dook, Newk, Oisk, and the unsung Billy Cox.

I paid my dues. I suffered the 1951 disaster with Bobby Thompson’s homer and did so in the presence of my devoted Giant fan and friend, the late Robin Heather.

As part of this devotion to the Dodgers, I became a NL fan – how could I be otherwise when almost every year I had to live and die with the Yankees beating my Bums?

This dislike of the American League was exacerbated when they brought in the Designated Hitter rule which destroyed the strategy of the game.

There is a third aspect to this I want to thrash out. Why devil should I be pressured into supporting a team because it represents a Canadian city? What happens if the Blue Jays lose? Must I then continue to support the team that beat them? Am I permitted to pick another team to support the rest of the way? Will the CBC and the Vancouver Sun instruct me as to which one?

Baseball is not a game of national patriotism to me unless of course, Canada, using Canadian players, is playing another country in the Olympics or some other baseball tournament. For the day-to-day operation of the American and National Leagues surely to God I’m entitled to pick my team, love them to death for no good reason whatsoever, and hate another again for no good reason, without being pestered to support, of all things, a Toronto team.

As I said on national radio, this is not baseball we’re talking about but Don Cherry jingoism. One writer tried to make me feel better by saying that when they were here, he supported the Montreal Expos too. My answer was – so did I unless they were playing the Dodgers.

I will not have my patriotism called into question by johnnies-come-lately who wouldn’t know a balk from a base hit and who suddenly get religion when pressured to join the crowd by flap-mouthed professional patriots like Cherry and his ignorant acolytes.

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