To fall in love with baseball is to fall into the past, as far back as you can remember it when you were a child, and even further than that if you can.
To fall in love with baseball is to fall in love with people and places and games that are from times that are much older than you, places you’ve never been to, and games that are now just box scores on paper.
Baltimore Orioles beat the NY Giants 10-4. August 5, 1896.Embed from Getty Images
Wee Willie Keeler. 1907.
To fall in love with baseball is to be in love with a game that has a history and a culture that is nearly 200 years old. It has changed and evolved and changed back again, but, it’s still pretty close to what it was right from the start.
(When the main thing that people still argue about is the designated hitter rule, you know that things really haven’t changed all that much.)
Embed from Getty Images
Ron Blomberg. The First DH.
It’s hard to explain all this to someone who doesn’t see things the way you do.
But, in such a complicated and challenging world there is much to say for a game that is so simple and carries so many memories with it.
If a boy from 1896 found himself somehow here today, his heart would tighten at the sight of cars and rocket ships and computers and women in pants and all the old people who aren’t dead yet and those other things of life that are so different now from then.
(Hey, kid, we’re Yellow Fever free since 1905!)
But, if you sat that kid at a baseball game he’d recognize it. Sure, the Jumbotron and hotdog race would confuse him at first, but he’d find the game pretty much as he left it when he left 1896.
Maybe he wouldn’t. But, to fall in love with baseball is to believe that he would.
To be certain that he would.
(Editor/Husband insists that I mention that the little boy would be surprised by how long it takes to get through nine innings today. I’m sure the kid won’t mind.)
Baseball’s changed, of course. But to fall in love with baseball is to believe that it hasn’t.
It’s like going to your parents’ house for Christmas. You’ve grown and changed. You’re on your own. But, still, they put you back in your childhood room. And, after the hugs and hellos something strange begins to happen. You start to become 13 again.
(This is not necessarily a good thing, and I was not necessarily a good 13 year old.)
To be in love with baseball and to go to a game is like that. You watch the game and you start to become the person who watched the game as a child. And, the game takes on its own sepia tones.
That one game becomes all the games you’ve seen and all the games you’ve read about.Embed from Getty Images
Babe Ruth. 1925.
You’re too young to remember Wee Willie Keeler or Babe Ruth or Satchel Paige or Jackie Robinson, but you start to remember them anyway. You can see them there in the game that you’re watching.Embed from Getty Images
Satchel Paige. 1948.
To miss baseball in the off-season is to think about baseball whether from 1896 or 1996 or just last October with a strange sense of longing. Longing for something that has only been gone for a few weeks.
I drank a Yoo-hoo today.
The first in, oh, probably, 40 years. Not because I wanted to. No one over the age of 12 wants to drink a Yoo-hoo.
I drank it because it reminded me of baseball.
And, how the Yankee’s Yogi Berra, who was so important to Yoo-hoo’s popularity in the 1950s that the company named him a Vice President, once answered the phone at a local distributor’s office and was asked if Yoo-hoo was hyphenated and he answered, “No, ma’am, it’s not even carbonated.”
Although, as you can see, it is.
You know, it was pretty sweet, but the Yoo-hoo wasn’t bad at all.
It’s been 10 weeks since baseball.
Dear Lord! I’m old enough to remember Satchel Paige and now wonder if my brother ever had his baseball card. If he did, it’s likely long gone. At least I have no urge to indulge in a Yoo-Hoo🤗
Hi Gloria … I’m a big fan of Satchel Paige … he’s one of my favorites!
I learned three things about Yoo-hoo yesterday: 1) it was invented in the 1920s, 2) It IS hyphenated and the “h” in hoo is lower-case, and 3) it simply tastes like chocolate milk that is more sweet than chocolate. I was afraid it would be vile, but it was merely very very sweet. Learn something new everyday, that’s my motto!
I was wondering if anyone had any info on a Yogi Berra card from a Yoo-hoo box. Thanks for any help.
My love of Baseball has a lot to do with the sound of a game, on the radio, and that’s mostly how I experience games now, from April to October (and, hopefully, not beyond). Since I’m a Giants fan, that means the sound of Jon Miller and Dave Flemming. There is just something about the sound of a game, being called by people who feel like old friends that makes me relax and just feel good. I love to sit out on the patio on a long, warm evening with a cold beer (or two), and listen to the play-by-play. When I was a kid, before every house was air conditioned and windows were open, you could hear the same baseball game, coming from up and down the street. That’s really how I learned to love baseball- and, I guess, that’s why I don’t feel I have to actually attend games to follow the sport, although I do, occasionally, go to one.
I have to say, though, that you’ve got me curious about this “Yoo-Hoo” thing. I’ve never had one, and my life may be poorer for that. I wonder if they’re even available, here on the Left Edge. Have to check that out.
Hi John … My only other Yoo-hoo’s came from when I was a kid … east of San Francisco in the valley, so I’m confident your local Kwick-E-Mart will have them. That said, I don’t really recommend them. While I found it delicious at 10, it pretty much just tastes like chocolate milk with extra sugar. But, it stirred up memories so that was nice.
Remembering baseball can sometimes feel as satisfying as watching it new. :)
Absolutely wonderful post, Bloggess, absolutely wonderful.
And BTW I had one of those Yogi shirts (no Mantle shirt). And Yoo-hoo is around here occasionally (and is still awful).
Thanks for a great post.
Thank you, v. I thought of you as I was writing, too … and how you pore over old history and statistics to share the past with us. It’s so exciting to be looking over an old story and you find something new just sitting there in a box score waiting for you to discover it.
Apparently, Yogi quit Yoo-hoo for many years when it was sold and re-sold and changed its formula. He came back finally when he felt that the Yoo-hoo was the one he remembered. I was a little skittish when I opened the bottle, but it’s just oversweetened chocolate milk. I did make some brownies with it … just to see what would happen. The result? Very, very sticky-sweet brownies. I hope you still have the Yogi tee-shirt! :)
I don’t have the shirt. Outgrew it 50 years ago and into the Salvation Army bin it went. Maybe somewhere so other kid has it, but it’s surely worn to threads by now.
That designated hitter photo looked relatively recent, so I wikipedia’d and was surprised to learn the rule was so recently adopted. Yoo hoo! Cheers —
Hi JB … Yup, 1973. It’s very weird to have such a significant baseball rule that only applies to half the teams in the MLB. But, I like weird, so I’m good.
You sacrificed for us! You drank a Yoo-Hoo! Lawd ha’ mercy…when I was a kid I ran the other way from Yoo-Hoo. It never reminded me of baseball in any way.
The other day though, I dredged up from my memory banks the last game of the 1972 World Series. Since the O’s had been eliminated, I wanted the Reds to beat the A’s. And as the Big Red Machine went down in 7, I remember my mom laughing as I cried in front of the TV. The saddest baseball memory I ever had. I realize that story had just about nothing to do with your post, but I felt like I needed to tell the Bloggess the tale.
Now, no more Yoo-Hoo for you! Plus, February is around the corner, which is one good thing about the New Year coming in.
If it hadn’t been for Yogi Berra — who brought a bunch of other Yankees, including Mickey, on board with endorsements — I don’t think Yoo-hoo would have anything to do with baseball. I can’t imagine having a cold Yoo-hoo on a hot day. ewww. But, yes, I drank the Yoo-hoo so you wouldn’t have to! And, now my curiosity is sated. (And, the remaining three bottles will be donated to some local 8-year-olds.)
I love your story! Not that you cried, of course, but that you have this bittersweet, yet rich, memory of baseball. That’s what I love about it … when you love the game it has such a rich past to draw from and the memories are such a gift. Even when the team you’re rooting for loses. And, there’s probably a nice blog post hiding in your memory, just waiting for you to write it down … :)
Very likely @ blog post…
Yoo-Hoo. As I grew up, I heard about Frosty Malts at Twins games. I go to Redhawks games to treasure the sound of wooden bats. I agree with Editor/Husband; the boy is bound to get a little restless at some point. Thanks for this posting. It made me remember.
Hi Jim! The little 1896er won’t get restless … he’ll get to play the shell game on the Jumbotron, watch the replays, watch the hotdog races, do the wave (he’s never done the wave, it will be fun for him!), heckle the umps, eat all sorts of food he’s never heard of, and sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”. He’ll be too busy to be restless. He’ll also have to take a bit of time to wrap his head around the DH (since I’m bringing him to an O’s game.) Plus, I’m assuming little ’96er will want to score the game, so that takes some time, too. :)
Since the subject came up, one of the reasons I find it hard to care about college baseball (and Berkeley, where I live, has a good team- last time I looked) is the use of aluminum bats. It’s very odd, even to me, but I’m simply put off by the sound of a hit that goes “clang”, instead of “crack”, when the ball is hit. It’s just not right.
On the other hand, aluminum bats don’t explode into a hundred sharp fragments, either, so, there’s that.
I know that the aluminum bat is a bit of a challenge for folks … although the “clang” is actually more of a “ping”. One of our favorite things to say at games is, “He sure got a lot of ‘ping’ on that ball.” Still, to watch young college kids play — no chewing tobacco, no big contracts, no huge life distractions hanging over them yet — is refreshing. The “ping” of the bat sort of fades after awhile. I think some of the best baseball I’ve ever seen has been at college games. If you’re close by, you should give a college game a try … the good might outweigh the ping! :)
This is one of the best things I’ve read in a while! Growing up, I always had a fascination with both baseball and history, but it wasn’t until I was older and started putting the two together than I realized why both appeal to me. This post conveys a lot of that.
Awww, thank you, Precious, for those kind words. They made my heart happy. I’m with you — baseball and history are just wrapped into one big tangle for me. I often think the best baseball fans are the ones who can “see” the history in a present game. I just think U.S. history would be especially resonant if the “eras” were book-ended by World Series rather than World Wars. :)
In the official rulebook for Rotisserie Baseball (back in the pre- or at least infancy-level Internet days of yore), it was stated that the champion was supposed to take a Yoo-Hoo shower. I don’t have a copy anymore, so I can’t quite recall why. Maybe somebody can hunt down Daniel Okrent and ask him if he remembers.
oooh, Pickle, you’ve intrigued me with your comment. I’m on it — let me see what I can find about the Yoo-hoo shower. (Although it sounds horrible … you might be sticky for days! Plus, you’d attract ants … but still … I must find out!) Thanks!