Welcome Back, Baseball

Consider this my love letter to baseball.

For me, baseball represents so many of the things that are right in the world. Perfect green grass. A bright, lazy sunny day. People united together in the common love of sport and the rabid fandom of a particular team. A game played much the same way it was more than one hundred years ago, drawing us closer to our past and laying a foundation for our future. It’s a sport where statistics and records encourage discussion — sometimes heated and sometimes civil but discussion nonetheless that can help bridge divides and unify cultures.

As baseball season commences again this week I’m reminded of the words of Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby:

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Exactly.

Some will read my words and laugh or snicker. But what about steroids, they’ll say? And out-of-control salaries? And escalating ticket prices? And greedy owners manipulating cities and citizens for pricey new stadiums and subsidies and amenities that are unfair?

To them I say, baseball isn’t perfect. It never has been and never will be. Show me a sport or a business or an icon that is. It’s not possible. You can be jaded on baseball. I understand. There are lots of things that I’m jaded about but I find peace and contentment unlike most other times in my life when I’m laying in bed watching a ballgame or listening to one on the radio or sitting the stands at a ballpark without a care in the world except whether the guy on first will try to steal or whether the hitter can execute the hit-and-run.

What baseball brings is joy, escape and, at the beginning of a baseball season, unbridled hope. Unending amounts of hope that my team might finally succeed this year in capturing the glory of a World Series victory. And move this adult man to sobbing, wet tears. Corny, absolutely. Pure, you bet.

I’ve been addicted to baseball since I was a little kid and my father and aunts introduced me to the sport. It not only filled my waking hours with daydreams and fantasies of my team reigning victorious and my one day playing for them but it taught me practical things, too. I learned math by calculating batting average and earned run average. I learned hand-eye coordination through solitary, never-ending games of wall-ball in my backyard. I learned the value of hobbies and protecting cherished items by collecting baseball cards and memorabilia.

On a bigger scale I learned teamwork by playing the sport. I learned how to speak to adults by talking about baseball with my older family members or, on rare occasions, by working up the courage to ask my favorite player for his autograph before or after a game. I learned patience because baseball requires the patience of a person willing to wait and surrender himself to the agony and ecstasy of the next pitch, the next swing, the next at bat or inning.

It is in those moments when nothing is happening that everything is. Those moments increase the tension to an amount that makes your heart feel like it will never recover and your mind cannot process all the infinite possibilities of what will happen when the ball is put into play.

Baseball won’t solve my problems or cure my ills. It won’t keep me warm on a cold winter night or replace the love of a trusted friend. What it will do however is grant me a few moments of solitude and allow me to connect with my dad and my family and my friends in a way that few things can. It allows me to share a passion with my sons and gives me hope that one day when I’m gone baseball will continue on, as it always has, 60 feet from pitcher to catcher and 90 feet down the basepaths. That kind of continuity in life is hard to find. And baseball grants it year after year, all summer long. Except when it’s raining.

Photo credit: PMillera4 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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