They broke some windows on West 41st Street last night. That’s what happens when you play baseball inside a fancy glass building.
It wasn’t what some people expected at TheTimesCenter from a panel discussion – Streets of New York: Writers Covering the City – that included journalists Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill, Susan Dominus, Dan Barry and Clyde Haberman.
“I thought this was going to be about journalistic ethics,” someone in the audience whispered as the first pitch was thrown.
Breslin started the game by talking about a book he’s reading on legendary general manager Branch Rickey. Then he weaved baseball into the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“We’re still fighting the same battles,” Breslin said. “I read about Phillies manager Ben Chapman and all the hate he aimed at Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers. Then I look at Geraldine Ferraro and see the same thing.”
Hamill jumped into the batter’s box.
“Jackie laid the groundwork for this,” he said. “Obama’s run began on April 15, 1947, when Robinson took the first step.
“There are many similarities,” Hamill continued. “Robinson had the courage to enter a battle knowing that he couldn’t fight back. Now we see Obama doing things much the same way.”
Those parallels show that progress has been slow.
“But at least there’s been progress,” Hamill said. “You can look at Obama and see that we’ve come a long way.”
And you can look at Ferraro and the racially-divisive campaign run by Hillary Clinton and see that we still have a long way to go.
“It’s the job of newspaper columnists to tell the stories that can make a difference,” Hamill explained. “We want our readers to say ‘I didn’t know that’ or ‘I never thought of it like that.’ It’s a double off the right-field wall if they say both.”
Another window gets broken, but this time it’s for journalistic ethics.