“It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again. And it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings. And then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.'; A. Bartlett Giamatti, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball.
From the lush, green grass to the smell of an old leather glove, baseball is truly an extraordinary game. Let us look beyond the enormous salaries and free agency and examine baseball for what it really is: an outstanding form of entertainment. Baseball is incredibly important to me, as not only have I learned an enormous amount from it, I have experienced a whole spectrum of emotions during my love affair with the game.
I have been a baseball fan all my life. I remember watching my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play in their robin’s egg blue uniforms in the early 1980’s. We had a birdfeeder in our backyard, and every morning, the same cardinal would stop for his breakfast. I named him Tommy Herr, after the Cardinals second baseman at the time. Tommy has long since retired, but I will always remember the little bird flying in my backyard.
It is difficult for one to approach this subject without a sense of heroism and romanticism of it’s rich history. One of my favorite parts of going to the ballpark is listening to the fascinating stories of old timers, the men who have loved the game since childhood. They remember Musial, Maris, and Mantle. They can tell you stories of hearing Hank Aaron hitting his record breaking home run on the radio, or watching Lou Gehrig as a young child. Many of the greatest baseball stories can be heard from these men, living encyclopedias if what the game once was, and it today. Someday I will be sitting in the box seats of a ballpark, and a young child will take the seat beside me. I can captive his imagination with anecdotes of Cal Ripken Jr.’s remarkable streak, Ozzie Smith’s amazing back flips, Pedro Martinez’s menacing fastball, and the magical summer of 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire mystified the world with their long ball heroics.
Only in recent years have I begun to truly appreciate the game for what it really is. While some go to the ballpark to see home runs, popular players, or fireworks, I find myself attracted to the more subtle aspects of the game. There’s nothing like a riveting, 1-0 pitchers duel, or seeing a wide-eyed rookie connecting for a game winning hit. I appreciate a come-from-behind victory. I like watching the underdogs defeating the better team in the playoffs.
Being born and raised on the Cardinals, I have only seen my team in the playoffs once in the last twelve years. Yet I still return every spring, with hopes and expectations that this season will be “the one';. If the fall rolls around to find us under .500, I find myself quoting many Cubs fans with the often used...