Spring feels like a fresh start for so many things, and baseball is no exception. Take them out to the ballgame, take them out with the crowd…! – Norworth & Tilzer (1908)
As my dad reminds us every year in early February, “Two weeks until pitchers and catchers!” While we’re still shoveling snow, ball clubs around the country are warming up their hurlers’ arms in Southern locales to kick off the preseason.
Opening Day is practically a holiday here in Cincinnati, typically around the turn of the calendar into April. No matter how our beloved Redlegs performed the prior year, our faith is renewed in the promise that this year will be our year.
Some say baseball is boring. They extol football for being more exciting, with standing fans, fast action, and amped up players.
For me, there is nothing quite like spending an afternoon watching baseball in the stands, squinting in the sun, slathered in sunscreen, sipping a tall beverage out of a plastic cup, and mindlessly cracking peanut shells to dig out the nutty pearls inside.
I scan the crowd for super fans, the ones settled in with headphones and a score sheet so they can listen to the radio announcers call the game. I spot kids with hands trembling inside baseball gloves, at the ready to catch a fly ball.
I catch sight of multi-generational families, with the elders recounting stories from the glory days of the Big Red Machine and digging deep in their memories to answer baseball trivia broadcasted on the jumbotron.
Regardless of the team’s stats or standings, I know for sure that this year will be our year to take our boys to their first game.
I want them to love and appreciate America’s pastime, embrace its slower pace, and learn the mid-inning chants and cheers. When we play in the backyard, I hope they find the joyful rhythm of catching and throwing. When we sign them up for rec ball, I hope they feel the harmonious ring of a bat meeting a ball for a clean line drive.
I can’t wait to share the simple pleasures of this game with a new generation. As Cal Ripken, Jr. said, “You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.”
To play it, to hear it, to watch it unfold. To sit for three hours, with time standing still, gazing over a field of green, with the dull roar of the crowd along for the nine-inning ride.
For the love of the game, let’s pass it on.