Patriotism and baseball

Three or so days ago I started a thread wondering who was the last major league baseball player to serve the “normal” two year hitch on active duty in any of the Armed Forces. Noone has notified me of any baseball player fulfilling his military obligation or volunteering for the service since Roy Gleason sometime in 1968. I know several players served in the reserves or National Guard and I understand why this occured prior to 1973 when the draft ended. Can anyone explain the lack of military participation, including draftees, by major league baseball layers since 1968, more than 40years ago. Not all players are from the Dominican Republic.

I’m guessing the pay is a little better in baseball.

I’d also guess that losing a couple of years of your prime playing years when you’re supposed to be picking up experience would be a bit of a career-killer. It could be there’s plenty of players at the college or minor league level who would have made it to the majors had they not decided to do a stint in the armed forces.

How do we account for no major league player being drafted from 1967 to 1973?

Well, according to this article (link), Roy Gleason was a draftee, not a volunteer. That article anyways seems to imply that the teams had a cozy relationship with the draft boards and would arrange for their guys to join the National Guard so they could keep playing and only report for duty on the weekends and in the off-season and that there was just some sort of mix-up in Gleason’s case. Maybe because he should have been able to legitimately get a deferment because of his family situation, the team figured they didn’t have to pull strings in his case.

I would never do anything to denigrate the sacrifices made by our heroic men and women in uniform.

But my guess would be that the reason is, we haven’t had to fight a war for our very survival as a nation since World War II. At least, not in a literal, clear-cut sense.

  1. Because there’s more to lose. Baseball can make you a gazillionaire. Back in the day, it just made your wealthy, if you were a star; now it makes you stinkin’ rich if you can just make it to one full contract.

  2. Because the United States has not been in a war that needed men to leave their regular careers to go fight.

  3. Because, as you pointed out, there’s no draft. People generally join the armed services because that’s the career they are choosing, or to advance another career. That doesn’t fit at all with a baseball career.

  1. Who says that serving in the military equates to patriotism?

  2. How about comparing elite baseball players to people in other elite professions, like corporate CEOs or Hollywood stars?

  3. Two-year service is “normal” to whom? By what definition? What is the definition of “military obligation” in a country where there is no legal obligation to serve in the military since the mid-1970s?

I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no debate, because you have not established any of your premises as valid.

  1. I say that, while serving in the military may not make you patriotic, the complete faiolure of your organization to make any of your 550 men available for duty demonstrates a lack of patriotism no matter how many planes you have flying over for the World Series. This is where the debate comes in. There may be other points of view.

  2. Why? I see many Hollywood or music stars making themselves available for the USO etc. and even serving during the same time period. Also, this is my thread. You are welcome to start your own. There would obviously be great difficulty in establishing who is a relevant CEO and who actually served.

  3. The two year obligation has been imposed on draftees since before the Korean War, however it is arbitrary. If you can demonstrate that there really was a number of players who put themselves in harm’s way for some lesser period of time I am all ears. If you can even show any participation in the service after the draft was abolished in 1973 I would be interested to hear about it.

  4. The essence of debate stems from potential disagreement on an issue or issues. The fact that you seem to disagree on some of my premises is what debate is all about.

This is not true. The Guard in particular has been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a lot of ways, used is the right word, too. But I digress.

According to this unattested claim with no provenance, 63% of the players in the MLB are U.S. citizens. This Google cache of a somewhat more nuanced report put the 2006 figure of “foreign born” at 23%.

Since, outside the random Samoan, the percent of citizens is probably much higher in other sports, how many NFL players (beyond Pat Tillman) or NBA players have served in the U.S. military in the same period, I wonder?

This debate is completely different than the one in the title and the OP. Do you really want to debate the questions:

  1. What is patriotism?

  2. What are ways in which patriotic Americans show their patriotism?

  3. Is military service an adequate or sufficient or necessary proxy for patriotism?

But, okay, I guess.

Let me ask some more questions, then.

What “organization” are you talking about? Major League Baseball? The MLB Players Association? The individual clubs? What do you mean by “make available”? None of those organizations have any authority to “make available” any individual baseball player for military service. Do you want to add to your list of questions? How about this—do any of these organizations bear any kind of duty or expectation to “make available”?

If you’re going to set standards for patriotism for elite professional baseball players, it’s only fair to see if any of their equivalent elite professionals are subject to similar standards.

Oh, hey, USO tours count now? That seems to be significant goal-post shifting from “standard two-year military service.” I have no idea whether professional baseball players engage in any equivalent of USO entertainment tours. Do you?
3. The two year obligation has been imposed on draftees since before the Korean War, however it is arbitrary. If you can demonstrate that there really was a number of players who put themselves in harm’s way for some lesser period of time I am all ears. If you can even show any participation in the service after the draft was abolished in 1973 I would be interested to hear about it.

It seems to me that your potential debates are all over the place. I think it would be wise to establish some premises to make this a debate about something.

In 2008 the Lions drafted Caleb Campbell out of Army, but he couldn’t sign a contract or play for them because he had to fulfill his service requirement. On the flip side, David Robinson got a deferral from the Navy to play for the Spurs because, so the story goes, he was too tall to serve on a ship or submarine.

I have know idea what it is you would like me to “demonstrate.” The “two-year obligation” you’re talking about has not been in existence for a long time, and the draft was eliminated completely in the mid-1970s, before the bulk of today’s athletes were born.

And if you’re using voluntary service as a substitute for patriotism, don’t you have to eliminate everyone who served as a result of being obligated to serve?

Are you a veteran? I would assume from the tone of your posts that you are. If you would, please list your service and years.

Zakalwe, ABE3
United States Navy, 1987-1989 (Active), 1989-1993 (Active Reserve)

How is Major League Baseball failing to make anyone “available” to serve in the Armed Services? Being a baseball player is a voluntary activity; they are not preventing anyone from signing up.

Furthermore, how does this nonexistent failure demonstrate a lack of patriotism? Is serving in the armed forces the only way a person can demonstrate patriotism? I certainly hope not, since most people in democratic nations these days never serve in the armed forces; do they all lack patriotism?

Why limit the attack on supposed lack of patriotism to professional baseball? I don’t see a flurry of volunteers to the military from pro football, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf or bowling either.

Because playing baseball is more patriotic than serving your country. Just ask Abraham Lincoln:’s-fan-abraham-lincoln/

Like others, I’m not sure what the OP expects from MLB. The league can’t “make [their] 550 men available for duty” - those players are under contract to play baseball and nothing more. The players themselves obviously chose not to. Having an all-volunteer military means people are free to not volunteer as well. The formative years of a professional athlete’s career often overlap with the typical years of military service, and it’s not hard to see why many people would choose a potentially lucrative career over the military. As for people who do choose military service over athletics… you’ll probably never hear of them.

The last American draftees were inducted in 1973 - since those GIs completed their service, nobody in the US has had a military obligation unless they signed up for it. Denquixote, can you offer some specifics about what you expect MLB to do?

It takes all kinds of people to make a society function. Yes we need soldiers, but we also need coal miners, teachers, garbage collectors, bus drivers, etc. Why not criticize MLB for not providing coal miners? The notion that all of us must perpetually verbally fellate the military makes me want to puke.