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Baseball's true colors are red, white and blue

Hot dogs, baseball, apple pie and the Fourth of July. They are birds of a feather, and the plumes are red, white and blue. Today is the day when picnics, patriotism and parades join hands with pitchouts, popups and power hitting, and when flags and fly balls fill the air. Doubleheaders no longer appear on Independence Day schedules, but make no mistake, this is a baseball day as much as Opening Day or the first day of the World Series.

"Baseball, gentlemen, baseball!" is what curmudgeon Jimmy Cannon told fellow baseball writers one day in Cincinnati, late in the 1964 season, when their chirping conversation turned to college football. Cannon's words echo loudly every July 4.

Indeed, baseball is the game of the day today, as it is most days from early April through the end of September and deep into Reggie Jackson's month of October.

Today is a day without kickoffs or tipoffs. Nary a puck will be dropped. Just play ball. Stand at attention as the colors pass and pay attention to the standings. The season already is half over. Salute the flag and note the birthdays of Jose Oquendo, Vinny Castilla, Hal Lanier, Chuck Tanner, Bill Tuttle, Jim Beattie, Wayne Nordhagen, George Steinbrenner and the USA.

And remember Dave Righetti's no-no, Nolan Ryan's 3,000th strikeout, the grand slam Tim McCarver lost when he passed a teammate on the bases and, if your recall goes back to 1939, Lou Gehrig's speech and two slams in one game by Jim Tabor of the Red Sox. Each is an entry in July 4th's baseball resume.

Now, enjoy this tri-color salute to the game and its place in our lives:

Red Schoendienst, Roy White and Vida Blue. Red Murph, Whitey Herzog and Lu Blue. Red Barber, Bill White and Dodger Blue. Red Foley, Whitey Ford and Blue Monday (in Boston on Oct. 2, 1978). Rusty "the Adorable Redhead" Staub, Frank White and Blue Moon Odom.

The Cincinnati Reds, Whitey Lockman and "Blue" (umpires). Red Ruffing, Matt Whiteside and the Blue Jays. Eric "The Red" Davis, Whitey Wietelmann and Ray "Old Blue" Moore. Red Sox Nation, the White Rat and Blue Meanies (umpires).

The Big Red Machine, Rondell White and Jim Bluejacket. The St. Louis Reds, the Philadelphia White Stockings and the Buffalo Blues. The Boston Reds, Eli Whiteside and the Cleveland Blues. Red Faber, Devon White and the Kansas City Royals.

Red Rolfe, Whitey Kurowski and Hardy "Old True Blue" Richardson. Dan Quisenberry's mustache, Henry Blanco (Hank White) and the Bluefield Blue Jays. Mark "Big Red" McGwire, Gregor Blanco ("the White Shark") and the Hartford Dark Blues.

And World Series bunting.

Marty Noble is a reporter for