Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Love of the Game

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

How did my love of baseball develop? What is it about this game that fascinates me to distraction?
As a kid growing up in Indiana I was a Cubs fan. The first baseball game I ever went to was in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. The Cubs weren't good, of course. They rarely are. I didn't care. When September rolled around and the rest of my family had moved on to Notre Dame football, I would sit in my grandfathers bedroom on Saturdays watching the Cubs in black and white adjusting the rabbit ears every two minutes. I loved sports and I loved baseball above all others.

When we would go on vacation my mom always picked places where there were two things: an amusement park and a ballpark. Places like Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dallas. Mom fell in love with Dallas and we moved here when I was ten. Thus began my move from a NL kid to a AL fan for life. (I will always love the Cubs. They are my number two).

Arlington Stadium my first home away from home. I could go there and buy a cheap bleacher ticket and sit alone, keeping score and spending my summer nights in what I thought was heaven.

"There are others you know? " Shoeless Joe Jackson, Field of Dreams
I didn't realize growing up there were other girls like me. It was difficult being a girl and knowing the game. Men would react one of two ways. The first one was to explain the game to me. When I was a young adult I allowed this. I didn't even correct them when they were wrong. As I grew older that changed. The second was to assume that because I am female my only interest in baseball, or any sport was the male athletes. Truthfully, I look at hot baseball players the way I look at an attractive priest. A nice change of pace but completely useless to me if he can't do his job well. My friends were another story. They knew I was serious about baseball and they thought I was weird. At most they would humor me by letting me drag them to one baseball game a year. In fact, it has only been within the last year that I have found a group of female Rangers fans that understand my love of baseball.

There is a beauty to baseball that goes beyond the lush green of the grass or the smell of hot dogs. There is a simplicity that the other sports seem to miss but to truly appreciate baseball you have to know and understand the game. It isn't the non-stop action you find in basketball or hockey. It isn't the harsh toughness you find in football. What baseball has is the grace of the diving catch. What baseball has is the endurance of a season that stretches from February to November. What baseball has is the strength of the monster shot. What baseball has is the age old battle of power pitcher vs power hitter. What baseball has is the suspension of time with no clock. What baseball has is history, with the NL out dating the AL by 25 years. A history spanning over 135 years of professional ball, and the love of the sport being shared by generations of fans.

The only thing left to say really is this, I love God, my family (& friends) and baseball too. It is a perfect trio. They blend together now, for the first time in my life. I can share the love of baseball with others and it is amazing!


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