I have been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. My family is originally from Chicago--the south suburbs. By all rights, I should be a White Sox fan. But on opening day 1964, my dad took my brother, who was 5 1/2 at the time, to see the White Sox. He said I was too young to go although I was only a few days shy of my 4th birthday. My mom taught me how to ride a two-wheeler that day without training wheels, but more memorably, that was the day I became a Cubs fan.
I am also a Tigers fan, although not as passionately as in my youth. I can remember standing on the corner in Detroit, hooting and hollering when they won the Series over St. Louis in 1968. This was a few short months after we watched the National Guard roll down the same streets to attend to the riots in the summer. What a contrast. I believe my dad also took my brother to see a Tigers game at the end of that season--one of Denny McClain's big wins (30 or 31). I got left home again. But I got the last laugh--I'm the baseball fan and my brother couldn't care less.
In the '80s, I became a KC Royals fan, unless they were playing the Tigers. My friend Margo had met one of the players, and he used to leave us tickets for all of their games in Detroit, and occasionally in Cleveland, for a 3 year span. We'd go out with the players occasionally after the games. The parking attendents and stadium security knew us by name. Pretty cool. One of the players is now in the hall of fame; one is a major league coach. Don't know if they'd remember me or not, but oh what a time it was.
I have spent the better part of the last 40 years watching youth and high school ball. I was the head statistician for 3 years in high school--had my choice of running track and being on the bus with a bunch of smelly teenage girls, or keeping score and being on the bus with a bunch of smelly teenage boys. It was no contest. I even played a season of baseball (fast pitch) in a parks and rec league in Detroit when I was 12--an all girls team that played against boys. We won our division, mainly because 2 of the 4 other teams wouldn't play us, and forfeited, but we did win half the games we actually played.
Now I'm involved w/my kids' games. Between the two younger boys, I probably get in 60 games a season. Matt had a scrimmage last night. It was more like being in an ice rink than on a baseball diamond. BRRRR. My fingers and toes are still thawing out! But oh the anticipation!
Closing with a few quotes from my favorite baseball movies:
From Bull Durham, the words of Annie Savoy:
- Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it's also a job
- 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."
From Terence Mann in Field of Dreams:
- Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
Moonlight Graham in Field of Dreams:
- You know we just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, well, there'll be other days. I didn't realize that that was the only day.