The Power of Sports

Russian Baseball Player, Petr Denisov holding
Babe Ruth’s 1927 home run bat

It never ceases to amaze me the incredible power sports has to bring people together.  No other aspect of human civilization crosses ethnic, gender, religious, political and economic lines.  It binds us together like nothing else.  Sports is simply human.

This was again demonstrated to me recently when Russian Petr Denisov of the St. Petersburg North Stars baseball team visited the museum.  The young 24 year old and his friend Mariya were guests of The Johns Hopkins University Assistant Baseball Coach Denny Cox.  They were touring the Baltimore area to learn more about baseball and, of course, Babe Ruth.  The experience, for all of us, was delightful.

Denny, his wife Chris, Petr, and Mariya began their tour at the Babe Ruth Birthplace.  I joined them for their tour of the SportsLegendsMuseum and we instantly became friends.  That’s the power of sports.

Petr and Mariya enjoyed their visit.  We toured the Babe Ruth and Orioles galleries.  We discussed Babe’s love of kids, Babe’s fondness of the camera and even his acting abilities.  We discussed the various teams that have been known as the “Orioles” and the many Oriole traditions that have developed over the years.  They even knew John Denver’s song “Thank God I am a Country Boy.”  We talked about Jackie Robinson and segregation in our Negro League Gallery and discussed the emergence of American football in our Colts and Ravens Gallery.

But I think the highlight for everyone was the private tour of the Museum’s vault.  Looking at the rarely seen artifacts was exciting to Petr and Mariya.  Then came the moment.  I presented Petr with the opportunity to hold Babe Ruth’s 1927 home run bat.  The young man from Russia melted.  It didn’t matter that thousands of miles separated our countries, that language barriers and politics sometimes divide us…for a few moments baseball was the most important thing in the world and the Bambino was still the king.

Our love of sports has an amazing way of tying us all together.  It is a commonality we share with nearly every group in the world.  Yes, it makes up competitive but it also makes us kinder.  It gives us a common thread that we can use to weave a real relationship with someone different.  That is the real power of sports.

Shawn Herne is the Chief Curator for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.