For Love of the Game

If you know me at all, you know that one thing I love is my baseball. Every year around this time I wax poetic about Opening Day, and this year will be no exception.

baseball.jpg

But don’t worry.

Although I’m repeating myself, this post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names or metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, I won’t try and convince you. If you do love baseball, you don’t need me to tell you why.

But for me, it’s more than a game.

It is just a bat and a ball, but it can unite a city, a state, a family with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 32-year-old woman who usually only cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.

It’s remembering summers by games that were played—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow—especially given the historically horrible winter that we’ve endured.

It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with strangers wearing clothes with the old English “D” for my Detroit Tigers.

For me, it’s an escape.

Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.

For me, it’s family.

It’s a 92-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but who might tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.

I know this year will be different.

Gram doesn’t understand the games on TV and can’t comprehend what we’re watching. Selfishly, this makes me sad because I feel like we lost our big “thing”—the talks about players, the gripes about calls, the excitement of recaps and scores.

Yet watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio. (But not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)

For me, it relates to everyday life.

The goal of every single hitter is to always make it back home. There are daily ups and downs, success and adversity. You can fail miserably one day and be the hero the next day. Slumps happen, but you have to let go of the past and look forward and remember the goal—and that you’re not in this thing by yourself.

It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.

Sure, it’s a “pastime. ” But it’s my favorite way to pass that time.

Play ball.

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24 responses to “For Love of the Game

  1. “It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with strangers wearing clothes with the old English “D”…
    Well, in my case it’s the birds on the bat or a big StL for my Cardinals. But YES!!! I don’t make a habit of striking up conversations with strangers. But if someone has Cardinals gear on I could hug them take them out to lunch like we were old friends. We’ve been anticipating the season by watching the boys in spring training, jealous of fans in the stands wearing shorts and sunglasses down in Florida. We’re not even in StL, but my husband is taking half a day off work just so he can watch the home opener on TV. It’s finally here!!! If I didn’t have to work I’d be on the couch next to him. Enjoy the season!

  2. I love baseball, and have since I was a child. I’m a Red Sox fan first, and Texas Rangers, second (I live 15 minutes from Rangers Ballpark). I will miss Jim Leyland. He was one of the good ones. I have a lot of respect for him.

  3. Awesome! I’m madly in love with baseball, too. It really is so much more than a game, isn’t?

  4. I’m most excited for this upcoming campaign as hopefully the boy will enjoy watching at least a few innings with his old man. He hits pretty well off a tee. ….Ok… He bunts pretty well off a tee. We’re working on his throwing form.

    May your beloved kitties have a successful season and only finish one game out of first place in our AL Central.

  5. Lovely post. Even though I’m British and we don’t go in for softball over here, the emotional connection touched me..
    Sweetjolene.wordpress.com

  6. I loved Classic Concentration. That was my game of the computer growing up. Such fond memories.
    Too bad I can’t post pictures here because I would have tried to say all of the above through symbols. I’m sure it could be done.

  7. Aww, I’m no baseball fan but I like how it means so much to ya.

  8. There is a romanticsm about Baseball which does not pertain to other sports that I know. How many great movies about Soccer do you know? But there are many great movies abut baseball, including Field of Dreams, Bull Durhum and Moneyball. And I’m not even American. I just started following since last year because I live on this side of the world and its on ESPN. But I love it! I just have to pick a good team to follow. Great post btw.

  9. Tiger fan here as well. I will be packing extra clothes tomorrow in the hope I find a ticket to opening day. (It worked for the last 3 games of the playoffs!) It’s more than the game, it’s the memories!

    • Really? Good luck! I lived right next door to Comerica Park for six months in the summer about eight years ago and bought a $5 ticket to so many games. There really is nothing like it.

  10. Baseball isn’t big over here but I feel the same way about football (or soccer as you call it in America). It helps that my team, Saints, are doing well in the Premiership with no less than 4 players likely to go to Brazil with England in the World Cup!

  11. I love this. I know that my mom and I love to talk baseball and had season tickets to the Phillies games for years. GREAT post, Abby.

  12. The METS opening day is today, it’s chilly, damp and wet here in NY/NJ/PA and the Iron Pigs (the AAA team of the Phillies (we are not Philly fans but we do enjoy the Iron Pigs because Coca-Cola Park is only 10 minutes from our home and is a beautiful stadium).
    I think that like Hockey, Gio will be interested in the stats, will learn all the players, will know all the scores if only to appease his daddy…and that is okay with me.
    Baseball means Spring and hot dogs, having “Picnic seats on the lawn” and singing Take Me Out To The Ballgame.
    No, I’m not a huge baseball (or sports fan) but I love the game for the nostalgia and roar of the crowds. There is something about listening to the laughter and chatter you hear at a baseball game that I love.
    Plus did I mention the hot dogs? :)

    • Minus the hot dogs, I agree 100 percent. I love our local minor league team because a) they’re fun to watch and usually have lots of players ‘before they’re stars,” but b) because you can buy lawn seats to watch the games. True, it’s 40 degrees right now, but in the summer? There’s nothing better ;)

      • you’re right Abs, I love those lawn seats and the fireworks and the chatter.
        If we lived closer to one another, this would be 3 hours I know we’d enjoy together. :)

        HAPPY BASEBALL Season my friend.
        #GOTIGERS ! *just for you*

  13. Beautiful memories! I also love football first and then baseball. I have been a Dallas cowboys fan since I was 16. Baseball…SF Giants. Happy Spring!

  14. I left the office at onethirty to “work from home” . The braves were playing the brewers at 2:20pm. My 9-year-old daughter joined me when she got home from school for a couple of innings.

    It was a good day.

    One day I hope we can watch the tigers and braves together.

  15. “Walt Whitman once said, ‘I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.’ You could look it up.”
    –Annie Savoy, follower of the “Church of Baseball,”
    -From “Bull Durham”

    Great Post Abby

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