Beloit College Mindset List – This year’s entering college class of 2021 can’t remember when a “phone” wasn’t a video game and research library. Mostly born in 1999, they’ve always been searching for Pokemon. They’ve never read a Peanuts strip that wasn’t a repeat and they never had the privilege of a Montgomery Ward catalogue as a booster seat. They have persevered in a world without Joe Dimaggio and brightened by emojis. If you ask them about the whine of a dial-up modem, expect a blank stare.
These are among the items in this year’s Beloit College Mindset List, the 20th such release since the list was first compiled in 1998. The List’s current subjects are the last class to be born in the 1900s – the last of the Millennials.
I usually don’t pay too much attention to lists like this one. When I see them covered on evening newscasts for 45 seconds it seems like cheap, lazy, hackneyed journalism. The Mindset List seems like a BuzzFeed list that is more important only because it was written by college professors.
I’ll make an exception for this year’s Mindset List for two reasons. First, it’s hard to believe there are college students that remember the stuff that happened in 1999 the way I remember the Iran-Contra affair. Second, because 1999 really was a fire year: American Pie, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, American Beauty, All the Small Things, Blockbuster Video, Y2K, N64, Clinton Acquitted, Britney and Christina.
Maybe I also remember 1999 as a fire year because I can vividly remember the best Red Sox season of my lifetime up until that point. Nomar’s three home runs, two grand slams and 10 RBI on May 10. The All-Star Game in Boston where Pedro stuck out five NL All-Stars. His one-hitter in New York in September. Troy O’Leary’s two home runs against Cleveland in Game 5 of the ALDS. Pedro’s heroics on the mound in Game 5. His 12 strikeouts against the Yankees in the ALCS as the Red Sox roughed up Clemens and won their only game of that series. Pedro winning the Cy Young.
Okay, maybe a lot of my good memories of 1999 have to do with Pedro’s dominance. I guess Terence Mann was right when he said that “baseball has marked the time.” I’m an optimist, so I’ll also agree that it “reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”