J. Crew and the Battered Bastards of Baseball

Posted on August 12, 2014

There are very few things in life that I see myself in more than the game of baseball. The sport lends credibility to my theory of the stigma of assistive devices.

isoblox pitchers padded cap I identify as an underdog, I flow through life feeling marginalized, hell I’m 32 years old and rock a cane. Rooting for an underdog is so deeply ingrained in my roots, having grown up in the Cleveland area. Throughout the course of my upbringing, I experienced Art Modell kidnapping the Browns in the dark of night, Lebron stealing and running away with our hearts, and countless Cleveland Indian heartbreaks. But where there’s devastation, there’s ultimately redemption. That sense of redemption currently sits in the hands of Lebron and Manziel.

johnny-manziel-cleveland2 My favorite baseball player is a seemingly polite man living a life somewhere between AAA and the majors. I cant imagine either feel like home to him. His older brother Andrew has started making a name for himself in Detroit. But my guy, Austin Romine is still finding his way. Him and my aspirations for him remind me of the engine that could. He lives a life of patience on the brink of success.

A friend of mine works for the Yankees. I recently got an unexpected package from her in the mail. In it was a Romine jersey along with a note that said “Continue rooting for the underdog”. 

I was so excited, I sent him this tweet.

Austin Romine Jersey To which he responded with:

Austin Romine Tweet This all brings me to a documentary that has given me such hope for YesJCrewCane. If you have Netflix and a little extra time on your hands, The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a must watch. It’s a doc about the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team created out of love for the game by Bing Russell (yeah, Kurt’s dad).

Battered Bastards of Baseball A team of grungy and unlikely heroes showed that success is not dependent on the chosen eyes, or as theyre called in baseball… scouts. 

After attracting 125,300 fans to 33 home games (setting a minor league attendance record), MLB regained interest in Portland and after some arbitration, they offered Bing Russell the highest ever payout for a minor league territory.

Bing Russell was just one person. He had an offbeat TV background and a love for something no one else saw. He did not fear eye rolls, he couldn’t be scared off. He reminds me a bit of myself. He is an underdog superhero. The Portland Mavericks became a miracle success.

And when the powers that be saw his vision realized, they hopped on board (ok, yeah they drove him out – but we can skip that part). And in the end, money came rolling in. But that’s not the moral story. The moral is that he created something that lives on today. For him it’s an independent baseball league for those who can’t bring themselves to walk away from the game they so love. For me and my band of underdog misfits (aka the disability population) it’s a home and a market for assistive devices. Beautiful canes and hearing aides and wheelchairs for all. And instead of Portland, my town is J. Crew.

Portland Beavers

A J. Crew Portland Beavers Cap

So to anyone who has ever seen a bit of themselves in the game of baseball, I want to ask you this. Will you give thought to the stigma of assistive devices. Because the stigma is everywhere, not just the land of disability. Baseball mitts had their day and we’re just now adjusting to the aesthetic of padded pitchers caps. Will you take a moment to support my vision by signing #YesJCrewCane? 

It’s amazing how much one can give just for a chance to play. All you need is a whole lotta love for the game. Please sign. 

change.org/yesjcrewcane

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