When President John F. Kennedy was murdered in 1963 — a killing that remains maddeningly unsolved to many of us — the world branded Dallas, Texas as “The City That Killed JFK.”
No one thinks of it that way today.
The Dallas Cowboys redeemed Big D’s reputation.
Sports bring us together in ways society’s expected institutions of assimilation either can’t, or won’t, anymore.
Imagine what Palmdale’s reputation is right now to many across the nation, and through sociopathic media, the world beyond, after the discovery of a black man, 24-year-old Robert Fuller, hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall last Wednesday.
Another pejorative profile of the oasis of hope in the skies above Los Angeles.
Whether it’s a methamphetamine lab spontaneously detonating in 100-degree temperatures (“why do ya think they call it the HIGH desert, dude?”), or a child abduction, or a school shooting, or the catfishing of Notre Dame 2012 Heisman Trophy runnerup Manti T’eo, our brushes with the national spotlight always seem to leave the worst impressions.
Except, that is, in Sport.
Isn’t that interesting?
With the Fuller family draped in unimaginable agony and neighbors rushing to their comfort, no one’s thinking this week of what Dodgers second baseman Kike’ Hernandez said about living in Palmdale in his remarks on being elected to the Lancaster JetHawks Hall of Fame in 2018.
“Those people in Palmdale made this young kid from Puerto Rico feel so welcome in the farthest place I had ever lived from home,” Kike’ said of his 2012 Palmdale residence. “I had never seen a place like the high desert, being a kid from the Caribbean.
“But they made me feel right at home in an important year in my career.”
When he forged a saga as one of the five most beloved JetHawks of all time, Hernandez didn’t see all the white fans sitting over here, away from the latino fans or the black fans or any other group that happened to be in The Hangar on any given night.
The Hangar has become our 21st Century town hall, a place we can sit down together to sort out the meteoric, and often volcanic, pace of change.
NBC Sports crews have already visited Highland High School while producing personality profiles on Bulldog legend Rachel Garcia, America’s Softball Pitcher, for use during the postponed Summer Olympics.
When Palmdale evolved from a city of 12,000 in 1980 to the affordable housing and sales tax receipts capital of Los Angeles County over the next generation, Riewer Field at Palmdale High became almost a big town hall as the Palmdale Civic Center.
Families whose only other interaction was the predawn race to the 14 freeway entrance ramps increasingly found on Friday nights their sons and daughters were PHS football teammates and cheerleaders.
Falcon football coaches Bill Norton, John Lowry and Jeff Williams made Palmdale a synonym for shared pride and success, and excellence.
Anyone who was there will never forget the seismic joy at the 1986 Antelope Valley Press Club’s announcement of the 1985 Falcons’ first CIF playoff appearance in 20 years as the Valley’s sports story of the year.
Oh, almost forgot.
As Dale Earnhardt Jr., is elected Tuesday to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we are reminded that Ron Hornaday Jr., was California’s first NASCAR Hall of Fame enshrinee.
Please, get Paul George, Palmdale’s favorite son, to Orlando and the resumption of the NBA season ASAP.
The capital of Clippers Nation needs him more than ever.