“Bat Ball” in Noho a No No
John Bowman and I appreciated Pete Redington’s feature on Wahconah Park (“It’s Not Heaven, It’s Wahconah Park,” July 25, 2013) in Pittsfield. We also appreciated his reference to our book, The Hurrah Game: Baseball in Northampton, 1823 -1953, first published in 2002.
One small correction and clarification: Pete calls the Northampton ordinance against playing ball near the Meeting House an “early nineteenth-century document.” Actually, Northampton passed its ordinance in 1791, the same year as Pittsfield. But Pittsfield’s ordinance is the earliest known use of the name “base ball” in the United States, whereas Northampton banned a game it called “bat ball,” and therefore cannot share bragging rights.
Accordingly, we changed the date in the title of the 2011 edition: The Hurrah Game: Baseball in Northampton, 1791-1953.
[Editor’s note: The Hurrah Game: Baseball in Northampton, 1791-1953, by John S. Bowman and Brian Turner, is available at Broadside Bookstore and Historic Northampton.]
Too Real to See?
Everyone was upset over the Rolling Stone magazine cover photo of marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as being too “fluffed.” Then, when Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy released “real” photos of Tsarnaev’s capture by police, everyone got upset again because the photos were too “real.” Sgt. Murphy has been suspended. So just what should the people get to see? I hope people have not forgotten that this kind of secrecy began with the Iraq War, when our government prohibited the publishing of any photos that revealed the “true” violence of the conflict.
Casino Towns Never Prosper
Well, the millions spent by MGM paid off. The $4,000 raised to oppose the casino never had a chance, especially with [Springfield’s] Mayor Sarno and various members of city government assisting MGM, even to the extent of appearing in their commercials. Now we just have to wait and see if these officials move into high-paying casino executive jobs when their terms in office expire.
Residents of a city with a casino never prosper. They just become poorer as the casino takes their money. Good jobs are lost as businesses go out of business because of casino competition; lost jobs are replaced with low-paying casino jobs. The construction period may be good for residents, but that will not last forever.
So how many people need to lose everything to create one new billionaire? Inequality already threatens the stability of our society by destroying the middle class. The new casino will accelerate the process for Springfield. If the casino is built, I would like to see nobody go—not for retail shopping, dining, entertainment or gambling.
Student Loans and Bankruptcy
To your question “Should the law be changed to allow student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy?” (Advocate Referendum, Aug. 1, 2013): Absolutely. And these loans should be interest-free to begin with. In this country, where education is a national priority, to enable predatory lenders, and prevent this debt from being discharged when you can get an auto loan for 2.49 percent or less, is shameful. I know many couples with both members working who are at a standstill due to college loans.