How Baseball Shaped Bernie Sanders’ Political Views

Independent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders grew up in Brooklyn and became a die-hard Dodgers fan, so much so that when they left Brooklyn it shaped how Sanders saw the coming and going of businesses.

When Richard Sugarman asked Bernie Sanders if Dodgers leaving affected him, Sanders replied:

“Of course! I thought the Dodgers belonged to Brooklyn”

Sanders believed local sports teams belonged to Brooklyn and should be there to entertain and provide for the people. When they left for California to reap massive profits, it furthered the idea of the greed monster. That’s when Sanders came to the realization that a team is a business and that those businesses served their own interests.

What is startling about Sanders’ realization is that he saw sport for what it is, a business where self interests are served like any other. This had a lasting effect on his ensuing political career from mayor of Burlington, Vermont to his run for presidential office.

Another way baseball had a profound influence on Sanders’ career was when Sanders tried to lure a minor league baseball team to Burlington in hopes that they would in turn sell shares to its citizens, making the team publicly owned.

This wasn’t the only effect baseball had on Sanders’ political career. In 2005 Sanders’ most notable public moment as a congressman was shaped by baseball when Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire were brought in front of congress for steroid hearings.

Sanders complained to congress that steroids in professional baseball seemed more important to the public than solving childhood poverty.

Sanders said:

“I do want to say that I am overwhelmed by the kind of media attention this has gotten. I have counted dozens of TV cameras, and I think some of the American people wonder, is this all we do? Because this is what they see on television.

So I want to say to our media friends, that when some of us talk about the collapse of our healthcare system and millions of people not having any health insurance, come and join us. And we talk about the United States having the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world at a time when the rich are going richer, come on down.

Now maybe we may have to bring great baseball players to help us talk about childhood poverty. I don’t know. I would hope not. I’d hope we could have some of the great experts and I would hope you would come. But to the American people, some of us are dealing with other issues, as well.”

That moment, defined Sanders political. Sanders found a way to start his political revolution by using baseball. And baseball shaped the Bernie Sanders we know today, a man who isn’t afraid to say what is necessary and right.

Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons, available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Tanner Bisbee hails from the great State of Maine. He's a full time college student and serves on the football staff at school. His most notable work to date is his book Modern Day Sports Blog. To read more check out my blog