Every year during
this time I carry my baseball glove and a baseball with me in my car for
several reasons. The biggest
reason I carry it is to remember the significant role baseball has played in my life. I grew up playing baseball. Every summer day was a day full of
neighborhood baseball games. We even kept
our statistics – hits and homeruns mostly.
I waited for my dad to get home to play catch, he hated it when I would
show boat my throwing style and launch it over his head. He was also my coach in little
league. Nothing was worse than the
threat of rain. Rainouts were
dreaded. I had my rituals,
stuffing up to two full sticks of bazooka bubble gum in my mouth. When I say "two sticks" I’m talking about
the giant tootsie roll shaped size that bazooka used to come in. My glove was a prized possession, I
even slept with it at times. I
carry my glove during this time of the year to pick it up and remember all it represents. There are very few smells as appealing
to me than a leather baseball glove.
I remember watching the movie For Love of the Game starring Kevin
Costner with my wife the day it opened in 1999. There’s a scene where Costner picks up a glove, with his eyes glued
on it, he pounds his fist in the glove two times and paused. I whispered spontaneously to my wife,
“he’s going to smell his glove.”
On cue Costner buried his face in his glove and inhaled deeply. Vicki just stared at me with a “what is that about” look. I carry my glove around because there
might be an opportunity to play catch with someone I love which I did on Easter
Sunday with my daughter Jessica (who throws like a girl), my son Daniel, and my
granddaughter Lexi. Ahhhh,
baseball, I love this time of year.
I watched my Royals yesterday play a great opening day game until American League Cy Young winner Zack Grienke came out of the game only to have his win ruined by the bullpen pitching. I watched my other team, the Giants on ESPN, dominate the Astro's, hoping my friend Jeremy Affeldt would come it to pitch but at the same time encouraged that he might not need to because of how dominate National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum was. Baseball is back. We have really good seats for Friday night's game when the Red Sox come to town. It's going to be a great week.
All of this was meant to be a little intro to the article by Eric Miller featured in Books and Culture called The Republic of Baseball: Just a Business? The article begins with some remincising about the romance of baseball and it got me all distracted with a time of remembering my story of baseball. Anyway, here are a couple of excerpts;
“'There are those, writes Charles Fountain, 'who see baseball as succor to the soul, a spirit that binds eras and generations.' To say the least.
In early 20th-century
Puerto Rico, 'baseball was what fisherman thought about when they cast
their lines and farmers when they harvested sugar cane,' writes Larry Tye
in his biography of Satchel Paige. Richard Peterson remembers true love in
rough and dirty midcentury Pittsburgh:
My buddies and I played baseball every day, beginning in the cold, soggy spring, through the dog days of summer, until the chilly fall rains turned our fields of dreams into mud. With neighborhood rivalries and individual pride at stake, we played a punishing, reckless brand of baseball that often went beyond a love of the game itself… I lived for those games and couldn't imagine what I would do with my life if I didn't play some day for the Pirates."
The article concludes with this great paragraph,
“All fans know that three words, whether spoken by villains or saints, kill the spirit of whatever sport of which they're said: It's a business. Baseball is not a business, any more than is marriage, or teaching first grade, or playing four-square. If we want to raise boys and girls who will come, like the aging Satchel Paige, to preach "the sanctity of the double steal and the blessedness of the bunt," we will find ways to preserve and protect this treasure. And chances are, if our children learn to feel the sanctity of the double steal, they'll come to know other realms of sanctity, too—and perhaps gain the courage to construct ways of guarding them.”
Read the whole article here.