In that far-away time, baseball was not Big Business. And it was still safe to take your grandmother to the ball park. She wouldn't hear or see anything that would raise even a tiny blush.
The men who played it were boys in pinstripes, not millionaires in analysis. We were interested in their batting records, not their arrest records.
When they loved, it was sweetly and tenderly, in pairs and not in teams, and frequently sanctified by courts and churches. And even if the marriage didn't work out, you'd find them, once a year, quietly putting a rose on the ex-wife's grave.
And when they played ball, it wasn't about contracts and agents, it was about achievement and talent, about grace and possibility, about giving life to the dreams of boys and girls all around the country.
The teams played together, and not just simultaneously. They were pals off the field, and you knew who you were watching, and what they hoped for. They were like the knights of the Round Table, off on a quest. If they didn't win, you were disappointed - but you'd enjoyed the pageantry of it, the interplay of personalities, the beauty of the game.
Some players did win, of course. Some players were better than others. Some players were better than anybody else. And you felt privileged just to watch.
This is all just a way to say that Joe DiMaggio is dead, and with him some of the springtime for which he was named - and with him, too, some part of this reporter's boyhood.
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