When a young man, likely an intern, approached Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin near the Capitol basement ATM Tuesday afternoon asking the Illinois Democrat to sign a baseball, he faced an unexpected question from this reporter: Did he prefer wooden or aluminum bats?
“I like both. Wooden’s better. It never hurts your hands,” he said.
It was July 26, 1989, when Durbin said in a one-minute speech (in the House, of course, Durbin’s oratory was more limited by a clock): “I don’t want to hear about saving trees, any tree in America would gladly give its life for a day of glory at home plate.”
Durbin signed the young man’s baseball, though it was unclear how many in the basement scrum knew the story behind the prodding. But in the immortal words of former HOHer Meredith Shiner, this column knows for sure: “May we mark this day every year to remember what America is really all about, and that even though it’s unclear who Durbin was addressing with this little ditty, aluminum bats have remained out of professional baseball for decades.”