"I don't care if I ever get back."
“Love is the most important thing in the world. But baseball is pretty good too!” – Yogi Berra
My love of baseball started early. In a picture taken of me as a young boy, maybe 5 years old at the St. Johns Orphanage Summer Festival. (more about that festival in a future blog post) I’m wearing a pinstripe baseball uniform, matching ball cap on my head, glove in hand.
As kids, we played baseball all summer long. There was a ball field at the end of the street in our neighborhood. On any given afternoon, neighborhood kids would be on that field playing baseball with once broken baseball bats fixed with screws and tape and baseballs which had seen one too many mud puddles.
One of my best memories of my dad involves baseball. When we were growing up, dad worked 6 days a week to keep food on the table and clothes on our backs. So he didn’t get the chance to watch me play Knothole Baseball. But I fondly remember times when he was home, tossing ball with me in the back yard. He didn’t own a glove. I remember not wanting to throw the ball too so it didn’t hurt his hands. But he kept encouraging me to throw as hard as I could. There is a seen toward the end of the movie “Field of Dreams” where the lead character, Ray Kinsella, is tossing baseball with his dad. I tear up every time I watch the movie or hear the music score.
6 minute watch but so worth every second: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXjz-M_6eN8
I played organized baseball from the time I was 7 until my early 40’s. I stopped playing only because I couldn’t do the 10:00 p.m. start times anymore (which were never on time) and get up early the next morning for work.
I’ve always been a Cincinnati Reds Fan. As I write this, my beloved Reds have started the season 4 – 8 but it’s early and they're starting to play better. My former next-door neighbor, who passed on more than a few years ago, listened to the Reds games on radio every evening in the summer. His bedroom was right above our side porch. He didn’t have air conditioning. The windows were always open. He didn’t hear to well so the volume was cranked up. Many a warm summer evening I sat out on the porch with a cold beer, listening to the game beaming from my neighbors’ bedroom window. It was simple happiness.
Why my love of baseball? Maybe it’s the smells of the ballpark, the feel of the grass. Did you ever hold a baseball glove to your face and breathe in the smell of the leather? Maybe it’s the symmetry of it: 60ft 6 inches from the pitcher mound to home, 90 feet from home to first, 3 strikes, 4 balls, 9 innings, 9 players on the field. Maybe because it’s our national summer pastime.
There are 108 stitches in a baseball. The number 108 is a mystical number. The rosary and malas both have 108 beads. The number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Wild, right???!! Mathematicians have called 108 “a number of the wholeness of existence” and “a natural number.”
Wholeness of existence, natural…yes. Singer, songwriter Juliana Hatfield said, “Baseball is more than a game, it’s like life played out on a field.” I agree. I’ll leave you with this metaphor for life from Babe Ruth, one of the games greatest baseball players of all time, ”Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Keep playing!
"so we root, root root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes your out at the old ball game!"