Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baseball: The Grandest Game

Baseball is the grandest of all games, in my opinion.

I love its history, its traditions, its pace, and its iconic players. I can remember from my childhood hitting baseballs in the front yard, over the fence, like the great Mickey Mantle. The first time I saw Willie Mays’ batting stance, I adopted it for my own use. I even used his basket-catch method when I started out in Little League.

Nothing in sports is quite as beautiful or majestic to me as walking into a baseball stadium and seeing the colors—the green grass, the white chalk lines, the flag waving in the breeze, the teams in their respective uniforms. A hotdog never smells or tastes better than at a ballpark. Even the loudest of vendors hawking their goods in the aisle never seems obtrusive. On the scale of life’s most wonderful sounds, the popping of a catcher’s mitt or a wooden bat striking a cowhide ball rank only slightly below that of a baby’s laughter. To hear an umpire giving sharp, unambiguous ball-and-strike calls is a voice of America, plain and simple.

I’m not sure how many baseball, softball, or wiffle ball games I’ve played over my lifetime, but it’s enough to have crowded out the chance to learn a lot of practical stuff. I still can’t repair a car, and I had to learn things like basic plumbing and electricity well into adulthood. Still, I wouldn’t trade one well-hit line drive of my ball-playing days for any of the other skills.

My sons were excellent baseball players. Both were all-stars and both played on teams that won a lot. My daughter played softball equally as well, and still plays to this day. I enjoyed those days and nights at the ballpark, and I suffered withdrawal when their playing days were over. I knew then I’d have to do plumbing or electrical chores at home.

Now my grandsons are playing. The two eldest are excellent ballplayers who play with athleticism, smarts, and heart. Our family name is stitched onto the back of their jerseys, and they make me proud the way they play with skill and competitive fire on the field. They make me even prouder the way they play the game fairly and as good teammates. For me, it’s like going back in time, and I must admit that I can’t get enough of it.

Soon my 4-year-old grandson will get a great treat and see his first major-league game. And I’ll get a great treat in seeing him see his first major-league game. He’s going to be a player himself, and my instincts suggest he’ll be a splendid one. He’ll put on his hat and uniform and pull for the Braves to win yet another. He may even get to run the bases after the game is over. He’ll soak it all in and discover what a truly incomparable game baseball is. I know he’s excited about it.

Almost as much as I am.

1 comment:

  1. After seeing Debby's FB post about the upcoming game I looked for you guys while watching the game. Didn't see you but thought about the little guy's first game.