Baseball Season

Every Spring is a new beginning, a new hope, a new chance to win the pennant.

DSCN5273When the baseball season starts fresh each year, it renews me, makes feel like I have another chance to make things happen and conquer the world again.  It makes me feel alive again… even now when I am old and retired and in constant pain.

People say to me, “Baseball is boring and slow and not as great a game as…” and then they try to tell me stuff about football and soccer and NBA basketball.  I’m not buying it, even when it is my eldest son selling it.

Baseball became my sport when I was a child in the 1960’s.  Great Grandpa Raymond was a frail and ancient man then, too elderly to share much of anything with me as I was young and full of energy.  But on Sunday afternoons in Spring and Summer, we listened to the Minnesota Twins play baseball on the radio.  I heard Harmon Killebrew hit homers and Tony Oliva make game-winning hits.  I learned that the game was about numbers and strategy… a team game, yet filled with moments of man versus man, star of one team facing off against the star of another, skill versus skill, willpower versus willpower.  I learned that baseball was a fundamental metaphor for how we live our lives.

I remember when Bob Gibson was the greatest pitcher in baseball, and he played an entire career with my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals.  I remember Lou Brock setting the record for stealing bases in a single season, a monumental accomplishment.  I actually saw Lou Brock steal a base in a game against the Houston Astros, though not in the record-setting year.  I was there in person.  I listened to Bob Gibson’s no hitter of the Pittsburgh Pirates on the radio, listening in a campground in St. Louis while the Cardinals actually played in Pittsburgh.  I didn’t get to see Stan Musial play ball.  He retired before I first became aware of the game.  But he was on TV quite a lot on game day, and I hung on every word.

970012_598081996889896_1749856650_n 10407396_841407729243846_8153033581544611964_n 252384_10151150805491840_424979047_nBaseball has gotten me through some very rough times in my life.  I used to play ball, baseball and softball.  I was a center fielder for our 4-H team and made some game-saving catches in the field, hit a home run once, and once saved a game for our side when I threw out a runner at home plate from center field.  And I have religiously followed the Cardinals year after year.  In 2011, when health problems and family problems and depression threatened to destroy me… the Cardinals won the World Series in seven hard-fought games.  When you reach a moment of crisis, with the game on the line, you can reach deep inside for that old baseball player magic… tell yourself, “I will not lose this day!” and find the power within you to make that throw, get that hit, catch that long fly ball…

Baseball is a connection to family and friends… teammates… everyone who has ever shared the love of the game.  If you don’t win it all this time… there’s always next Spring.  God, I love baseball.

5 Comments

Filed under baseball, humor, inspiration, Paffooney

5 responses to “Baseball Season

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I love baseball and those that think it’s too slow really don’t understand the game. In my opinion, as a Yankee fan, Gibson had the best year any pitcher ever had in ’68 with a 1.12 ERA, completing 28 of 34,starts and thirteen shutouts. And he did it with two pitches. I met him once and he was as timid acting in person as he was on the mound. My favorite pitcher of all time was Sandy Koufax but Gibson is n my top three. Baseball ties lives together. Excellent post.

  2. Like you Michael I love baseball. In the early 60’s I fell for the game in a big way. Loved the Cardinal uniform then as I do now. Then came my Giants. In 1962 I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t quite fathom the pain all around me. The 1964 series peaked my interest in the game, I wanted that Cardinal victory so bad. Then I remember the 1967 series and the history of the game (Red Sox suffering) became clear to me, and baseball cards. Truly loved the 1968 and 69 series’ and discovered why playing sick to stay home to see the series made sense. When the Oakland A’s arrived I fell in love with all things green and gold. Despite Finley, the A’s own a place in my heart. I’ll never forget 72,73, and 74. But the Giants were my heart, thanks to my dad. My kids have connections to both these teams, and there is a division between them, but not me. Yet 2010, 2012, and 2014 are so sweet, especially since this area felt robbed after the rattle of the bay in 89, and the heartbreak of 2002… finally the ‘rally monkey’ died. My wife calls the game “boring ball.” However, our kids and I feel like the late Ernie Banks, “What a great day to play two!” Love baseball? That would be putting it mildly. :O)

    • Believe me, I couldn’t agree more. Vida Blue and the Oakland A’s? They were the greatest thing to happen in my entire life (after I discovered girls). I also loved George Brett and the Kansas City Royals (except in the series against the Cardinals), the Boston Red Sox overcoming Babe’s curse (except against the Cardinals), and I really loved to hate the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Atlanta Braves. Nothing makes my heart warmer than the Cards beating any of those teams. Baseball makes my heart beat.

      • Just like me Michael. Love Vida and he works with the Giants now. I admire George Brett as well, what a player. I’m with you, I hope the Cardinals beat those guys every time they play them. Wanted to say that I’m a big fan of Lou Brock, and Bob Gibson. Have a great Saturday Michael. :O)

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