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The time has come to bring Nuke LaLoosh and Crash Davis to the Baseball Hall of Fame

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By Paul Gable

"I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us... It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball."—Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy in Bull Durham

Twenty years ago, one of the greatest baseball movies of all-time was produced in Bull Durham. The movie, featuring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson and Sarandon, was a great portrayal of minor league baseball.

Bull Durham turned many baseball fans onto minor league baseball with characters such as Nuke LaLoosh, Crash Davis, Joe Riggins and Larry Hockett, and did wonders for the Durham Bulls, who moved their baseball franchise back to my old stomping grounds, Myrtle Beach.

However, for all the laughs and good times the movie provided, it is not welcomed by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Five years ago, the Baseball Hall of Fame was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the movie. That was until Robbins and Sarandon made several remarks about the ongoing saga in Iraq, prompting then president Dale Petroskey to cancel the event. That is correct, the Baseball Hall of Fame, which has enshrined drunks, racists, drug addicts and those practicing adultery over the years, did not want a few people showing up with their "Make Love, Not War" T-shirts.

In a statement at the time, Petroskey said, "We believe your very public criticism helps undermine the U.S. position, which ultimately could put our troops in even more danger."

Wow, I never knew the Baseball Hall of Fame cared so much about foreign relations. I know there's several war veterans such as Ted Williams enshrined in Cooperstown, but this was ridiculous.

Robbins responded with a letter that can only be deemed as hillarious, writing, "Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in." That is a fine baseball fan.

Fortunately for baseball fans and fans of Bull Durham, Petroskey was forced to resign, turning the keys to the office over to Jeff Idelson.

Jeff, here's a little tip for you this seasondo not make the same mistake that Dopey Dale Petroskey made. Rather than worry about the comments a few actors make, embrace an opportunity to welcome Bull Durham to Cooperstown.

Remember, Jeff, that this is the Baseball Hall of Fame, not the White House or the Pentagon. Jeff, in case you hadn't heard, this is a building that pays homage to good baseball players, including those who liked women, drugs and alcohol a little too much.

You know what you get when you cross patriotism with censorship? McCarthyism. We're supposed to be smarter.

Jeff, don't make the same mistakes that Dopey Dale made, please. As a baseball fan, I am begging you not to get swept up in the notion that the more you hug the flag, the smarter you become. As I am sure you know, hugging the flag is simple. What's tough is understanding what hugging that flag stands for.

Don't make the same mistakes because the Baseball Hall of Fame cannot afford it.

Jeff, let's become members of the Church of Baseball and have some good times.

In closing, let me leave you with the words of the great Crash Davis, "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK?"

Paul Gable is the sports editor for the Grant County News. He can be reached by e-mailing gcnsports@fuse.net or by calling 824-3343.