Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What Baseball Means to Me

It doesn't take a long time of knowing me to know that I love baseball.

I'm a die-hard Yankees fan, but above that, I'm an all-around fan of the sport itself.
I love watching any game - from Little League up through the Majors.

I played 3 years in Pony League, 4 years in Little League, 3 in Babe Ruth, all 4 years in High School, 3 years of American Legion and another 3 years of amateur ball after college, and if I didn't have a job with such a restrictive schedule and chronic tendinitis in my throwing shoulder, I'd be playing still now.

So last night when a friend asked me this question: "So what does baseball mean to you?" it stirred up some emotion for me. Aside from this being one of my all-time favorite books EVER, it's also something that I could go on explaining for hours.

But here was my short and sweet reply:
"It means the smell of freshly cut grass on a Sunday morning. It means being on a team with a bunch of cool guys and working together to win while also having a fun time. It means being nervous as hell when you're up at bat with 2 outs and everyone is relying on you, and it means feeling on top of the world when you make perfect contact with a well-pitched ball and hit that sucker far over the outfielder's head.
It means both good and bad memories of my childhood and middle and high school. It means running the bases until you want to pass out because Coach made you. It means getting sunburn on your forearms and nose and getting a "strawberry" on your thigh because you slid without wearing your sliding pants.
It means the start of Summer and the end of Winter. It means playing a double-header that takes all day long and coming home exhausted, but you don't mind one bit because it was baseball."

Baseball, for me, is a comforting feeling of nostalgia that never gets old or fades.
If anything, my fondness for it gets renewed every Spring.

Excerpts from the late Ernie Harwell's famous essay seems to sum it up best:
"It's America, this baseball. A re-issued newsreel of boyhood dreams. Dreams lost somewhere between boy and man. In baseball, democracy shines its clearest. Here the only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rule book. Color is something to distinguish one team's uniform from another. Baseball is ballet without music. Drama without words. A carnival without kewpie dolls. Baseball? It's just a game -- as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. "

It's a part of my childhood and a part of my being, and I'll forever be one of the boys of Summer.

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