The Corner


Bernie at the Bat

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign sends along word that last night, he and his campaign staff played a softball game at the legendary Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa. The senator “was the starting pitcher and hit lead-off for our team, The Revolutionaries.”

If you contribute any amount, they’ll send you a Bernie Sanders baseball card. According to his baseball card, Sanders “hits right, bats right.” He also legislates far-left.

Sanders’s baseball passions are authentic. In 1984, Burlington welcomed a new minor league baseball team, and then-mayor Sanders threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the first game. The team was the Burlington Reds . . . but despite lingering rumors that it was some sort of Communist or Socialist nickname, the team was an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

It’s an oversimplification to say that the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1957 made Bernie Sanders a Socialist. But the senator has brought it up several times, and pointed to it as an early lesson about how the world works.

Back in 2015, as his previous presidential campaign was heating up, friends told The Guardian that the Dodgers’s departure of shaped young Bernie Sanders’s worldview: “I asked him: ‘Did this have a deep impact on you?’ and he said: ‘Of course! I thought the Dodgers belonged to Brooklyn,’” says Richard Sugarman, who is one of the Democratic frontrunner’s closest friends. “It does lay out the question of who owns what.”

Last year, Sanders talked about the Dodgers move again: “It was a disaster. Walter O’Malley, his name remains in infamy. It really was a very deep thing. Because when you’re a kid and the name of the team is called the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Brooklyn Dodgers, you assume that it belongs to the people of Los Angeles or Brooklyn. The idea that it was a private company who somebody could pick up and move away and break the hearts of millions of people was literally something we did not understand. So it was really a devastating moment. I remember it with great sadness.”

Finally, Sanders had a small role in the 1999 indie film My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception, where he played Rabbi “Manny Shevitz” (groan) who presides over the ceremony and goes off on a rant about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn and free agency ruining baseball. The scene, now online, is bizarrely fascinating.

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