A few weeks ago, the desert called to me, or was it Spring Training? Baseball has this effect on me. It makes me happy. Just say the word “baseball” and I will break out in a smile. What is it I love so much? It’s the crack of the bat hitting the ball, sending it at lightening speed in a line drive down third base. It’s the dance of the batter as he prepares himself mentally to make contact with the ball. It’s the exchange of glares as the batter tries to read the pitcher’s mind. It’s the sheer collective energy of the crowd, cheering on their chosen team.
This passion for the game all started long ago when my dad would load up the green van and drive us into Los Angeles to watch the Dodgers play ball. We’d don our Dodger blue gear, eat peanuts and keep score. My younger brother was my teacher, sharing the encyclopedia of player facts that were stored in his brain. It was always a good time.
Now my favorite way to watch baseball is at Spring Training in Arizona. It’s so up-close and personal. I feel like part of the family. I am fortunate to have a dear friend, Bob, who is a former pro ball player. Even better, he lives in Arizona. When he called to say, “game on,” I didn’t hesitate. Our weekend mission – three games in two days, all in different stadiums. Now, when you are lucky enough to sit next to a guy whose blood runs baseball and shares with you how and why each pitch is delivered, that’s euphoria for a baseball fan like me. The perfectly warm weather, the wafting smell of grilling hot dogs and musty draft beer, the sea of orange clothing (at the Giant’s game) – what’s not to love?
Many people think baseball is like watching paint dry. I find it relaxing and invigorating at the same time. There’s enough time between the pitches to guess the strategy behind the upcoming play. It’s a mind game that gives you the opportunity to sink into each play, learn about the players and admire the muscle these guys have to throw a ball from the outfield to home plate.
To make this weekend even sweeter, Bob introduced me to his former team mate and Hall Of Fame superstar Gaylord Perry. One of my favorite books back in the 70’s was “Me & The Spitter.” I had my icing on the cake.
Happy baseball watching. Be sure to take your glove. You never know where that ball might land!
So, “Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.”
“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!”
― Babe Ruth