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. 1909.
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.)
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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.