Getting Nostalgic About Baseball

15 Apr

Taking a break from my usual postings in order to muse nostalgically about baseball, and my beloved Red Sox, for a few paragraphs.  Even though I live next to Fenway Park, I am far from immune to the charms of baseball.  I still view every game I attend as a special and cherished event.

I see great things in baseball.  It’s our game – the American game.  It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism.  Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set.  Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.  ~Walt Whitman

You can’t walk near a baseball stadium without catching the enthusiasm:  the feverish hopes of the diehard fans, the souvenir-laden tourists, the frenzied vendors, the giddy excitement of small children at their ritualistic “first game”. I feel this way even when I’m battling the Yawkey Way crowds to get to an MBA class or to meet a friend for dinner.

A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.  ~Humphrey Bogart

It’s not that baseball food tastes great. It’s not that beer tastes good in clear plastic cups.  It’s that it is baseball food.  And baseball beer.  And that’s all that matters.  There’s something about eating Cracker Jack while singing “Sweet Caroline” or balancing your hot dog and Diet Coke while doing the 7th Inning Stretch.  It’s tradition.  It’s an indulgence. And frankly, it’s American.

No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined.  ~Paul Gallico

I can be a little OCD.  Everything in my apartment has a place and everything is returned to that place when it is not in use. I like right and wrong, I like goal and accomplishment, I love crime and punishment.  And I like baseball rules.

When they start the game, they don’t yell, “Work ball.”  They say, “Play ball.”  ~Willie Stargell

Whether we are dreaming of playing sports professionally or just enjoying the striped uniforms of those who do, there is something to be said for watching people have fun for work. Sometimes I am motivated to make my own work more fun. Or just to go outside and play catch.  Sometimes I am jealous. Or wistful. Or sad. Or pleased (that someone is getting paid to play!) But I’m never bored .

It breaks your heart.  It is designed to break your heart.  The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.  ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind

Baseball is not for stalwarts. It involves emotion and passion.  It’s easy to feel downtrodden, even at the beginning of the season.  Baseball is impressive in that the season is long, the games are numerous, and yet I never want the season to end. I am never quite ready for winter to arrive. Never quite ready for that last pitch.  

Ok, I lie. No quite about it.

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