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Nightengale: Doctor Says Baseball Can ‘Lead the Way’ on Coronavirus Response

Nightengale: Doctor Says Baseball Can ‘Lead the Way’ on Coronavirus Response
The Major League Baseball logo in an on-deck circle. Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

By Bob Nightengale |

The man is a chemist by trade, with a passion for baseball, and a hunger to save the world.

The name is Dr. Lawrence Rocks, 86, whose son, Burton Rocks, is a baseball agent, with a client — St. Louis Cardinals All-Star shortstop Paul DeJong — who has a passion for science.

Just like Major League Baseball played an integral role in the civil rights, with Jackie Robinson integrating the sport in 1947, Rocks is asking baseball to step forward now. He is calling for the mass production of activated-carbon masks in this country to stop the deadly coronavirus.

“If we don’t,’’ Rocks tells USA TODAY Sports, “I don’t see how baseball can possibly be played this year. There are too many regulations and edicts of gathering of people, and curfews past 8 p.m. in certain states. You put all that together, with the restrictions of food and gathering, and the players themselves will be fearful of playing.

“If something isn’t done, this could go on for a year, a year-and-a-half, or two years. It would not only trash the economy, but leave people with psychological problems.”

Rocks believes activated-carbon masks would greatly diminish the coronavirus, return normalcy to the world within weeks, and resurrect the sports world.

“Sports has always been under-estimated for its intelligence level,’’ Rocks says. “They have always been on top of health and environmental issues. And I think people in baseball have the most common sense.

“Baseball can be the sparkplug and lead the way now. Baseball can demand this from the government to mass produce these masks and distribute. If we do this, we can get back to normal in three weeks.

“The transmission of this virus has to be stopped.’’

Rocks insists the masks wouldn’t cost more than $1 to manufacture, and it would take less than a month to mass produce, providing every person in the country with a mask to use daily until the pandemic vanishes as quickly as it burst into our lives.

“Activated carbon is the best absorbent ever created,’’ Rocks says. “They are much better than surgical masks. And a mask a say is so inexpensive, much more inexpensive than shutting America down.

Rocks, who is Profession Emeritus of Chemistry at Long Island University, is an author who has written several books on energy crises, influencing the creation of the U.S. Department of Energy. The man has addressed the United Nations and appeared on the Today Show. His passion for baseball intertwined with chemistry prompted Topps to honor him with his own baseball card.

Now, he wants baseball to help a country, and the rest of the world.

“We have to do something,’’ Rocks says, “we can’t function like this. The politicians have it all wrong. We can’t take nine months in hibernation. We do that, the economy is going to be in a depression, a recession, and we will lose capitalism.’’

Stop with the idea that gathering in small groups will greatly reduce the virus. Isolation isn’t even a cure-all. It’s time to make sure that no one is inhaling, or exhaling, this polluted air that has a world in crisis.

“If we had the mask a month ago,’’ Rocks said, “the problem would have been ameliorated. The incidents of this virus spreading the world wouldn’t have been eliminated, but it would have been greatly reduced.

“If we don’t have the masks, even with smaller group gathering, there’s still going to be coughing, sneezing, and the virus being passed around. But if you could just shut down the transmission through breath, the virus would be mostly gone.

“That’s why we’ve got to start that project.

“And start it now.’’

Baseball has been a social institution in this country for more than a century, so at a time when cities are being shut down, families are forced into isolation, and thousands are dying, perhaps baseball can step up once again.

“I’ve seen strikes over money in my lifetime, difficulties during World War II,’’ Rocks says, “but this

is different. This is caused by a biological virus. Everybody should be afraid of it.

“If nothing is done, even when the time comes that baseball starts up again, there’s not a man or woman who won’t take care of their children first. And they won’t be bringing them to the ballpark.

“We have to get cracking on this now.

“Or it may be too late.’’

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, USA Today. Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook.


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