We have now come upon one of my favorite times of year. Spring has sprung yet the winter does not want to completely let go. What does that make you think of? Why baseball of course.
Baseball is deeply rooted within my immediate family. Both North of 50 and I grew up playing the game on old diamonds and on into high school. We happened to both be pitchers. I also stood my ground in the hot corner and at other infield positions. Graybeard also tried his hand at our national pastime though I'm not sure what position he played. I think he played the bench. The Moustache steered clear of the horsehide I do believe while Baby Sis did the same of the traditional softball.
There are many trappings of baseball that come to life this time of year. It is the dust of the infield, the smell of an oiled glove as you break it in, the feel of a wooden bat and chalk on your jersey. No self-respecting older player would even think of a metal bat. I understand today's game is different but a 'ping' just doesn't do it for me.
Baseball is a game of tradition and although it is a team game it is an individual contest. A pitcher is one-on-one against a batter. It is skill vs skill and a mental chess match. I won more than I lost. North of 50 was said to have great form on the mound in his day. I pitched with a great deal of heart, guile, fortitude, cunning, but enough of my unabashed modesty. Had I not hurt my throwing shoulder late in the season of my senior year I would have tried to pursue the game at the next level. Looking back, I don't think I would have gotten very far. I wasn't bad, just not better than the next level up.
I look forward each spring to the beginning of the season. Baseball is a marathon, too long at the pro level. Baseball shouldn't start and end with snow on the ground. As a kid I was a Dodger fan, then converted to a Red's fan with the coming of the Big Red Machine. I still follow the Dodgers to some extent but it is difficult when you can't listen to games live. Unfortunately the Reds aren't viable past the end of May year in and year out. North of 50 is a Yankees man. Ugh.
Our Esteemed Father would come to see my games at school and would inevitably yell something at me when things went bad. Sainted Mother only saw one game, the worst of my career. I hit a rather large batter in the mouth with a fastball. I thought I could put it high and tight and he wouldn't be able to get the bat up fast enough. I later learned it took over two years to get his mouth back to normal.
I wish kids still had the desire to go and play even a pick-up game. It just isn't something you see much any more. Everything is structured and I believe that takes away from learning the game. And for those parents who think you shouldn't keep score, learning to lose is part of the game. It is so in baseball and it is so in life.
Hope your favorite team does well, be it your pro team or your kid's team, except for the Yankees.