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Archive for October, 2016

Baseball

Growing up I loved baseball. I knew the stats of my team the Cleveland Indians and I studied the standings and paid extra special attention to my favorite player, Rocky Colavito. img_0238Television coverage was so different at that time. I could only see him play on the Saturday Game of the Week when the powers to be chose to televise Cleveland. Rocky was a power hitter and he was an outfielder who had a cannon for an arm. When Rocky was in the on deck circle he would go through many stretching moves and when he came to the plate, he would stand in the batters box and menacingly point the barrel of the bat directly at the pitcher, hold it in that position and then bring the bat slowly back in preparation for the pitcher to deliver the ball. Home Run!! I just loved it! My dad played baseball when he was a kid and as a dad he enjoyed watching the games with me.  I would cheer on my Cleveland Indians and he would cheer for whoever was the other team, especially if it was the Yankees. We had so much fun going back and forth at each other with jokes, put downs and lots of laughter. He knew how to get my goat, just say anything unflattering about Rocky. After all these years recounting those days still gives me lots of smiles and a feeling of lightheartedness.

When I wasn’t watching baseball I talked about the game with my friends in school. Unlike my neighbor Billy and my cousin Bobby, both whom cheered for the Yankees, my friends in school were not so committed to any particular team which resulted in more enjoyable discussions about baseball. When the World Series was being played, despite the absence of my team I was still a fan. I remember as a freshman in high school watching the World Series while in study hall. The teacher set up a TV in the room so that we could watch the game. A carefree atmosphere in an otherwise, what seemed to me, rigid environment.

My grandfather loved watching baseball. His favorite, I’m not sure, it might have been the Cardinals but he also rooted for the Cubs and the Pirates. I remember seeing a picture of him that was taken with Roberto Clemente. When our family would go to town and visit my grandparents, grandpa would be watching the game. My dad and I would watch the game with him. He never said much but his smiles, grunts, laughter and sighs pretty much said it all. He was having a good time.

When there wasn’t a game to watch and when I was talked out about baseball, my dad and I after chores and our evening meal would play catch. Some evenings I would be the pitcher and dad as the catcher, would call balls and strikes. Sometime I would shag fly balls hit by my dad. None of this was technical in nature, instead just a great time to laugh and joke around until the sun was gone and the fireflies filled the sky. Whether I was with family or friends, at home or in school or just daydreaming, baseball for me was synonymous with fun, laughter and excitement. A close and warm feeling.

Both our sons played organized baseball when they were young. We had a baseball diamond in our yard. We would play an abbreviated form of baseball and occassionally neighbors would join us in a game. Our sons had Cub T-shirts and hats and like me when I was a kid, they collected baseball cards. As a family we visited the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago and the Royals in Kansas City several times. We also in a subdued manner, cheered for the Angels to beat the Red Sox in Fenway Park. My brother in law’s cousin was the trainer for the Angels and he got us great seats, fourth row or so right behind home plate. I sort of stepped into it that night in Fenway. We were enjoying the game when what I believed to be a mother and her daughter approached me stating that we were sitting in their seats. I showed the mother our tickets and the corresponding number on our seats but she insisted that we were in error. We did not move and she then angrily called for the usher, demanding that we be moved. At that point I responded to the usher that this (expletive) was not correct regarding our seating. After checking all of the tickets and the corresponding numbers on our seats the usher showed her and daughter to their seats which were next to ours. I then heard the usher refer to the mother as Mrs. Carew. After Rocky retired my favorite player was Rod Carew. You guessed it, it was his wife and daughter. I called my baseball hero’s wife a (expletive), I can’t say it!

As teen years progressed for our sons they had a life with many other interests that superseded stat masters compassion for the game. In retrospect I think our sons tired of the rowdy, rough and tumble life of being a fan. When they lost interest, I lost interest. In an update, in more recent years my oldest son again enjoys baseball. We have discussions about the game that was once my passion, however the closeness to the game that I once had as a child and as a young parent have not returned.

This year, Cubs Win! Cubs Win! I am surrounded by Cub fans including many friends and family members enjoying this years Chicago Cub’s baseball success. I am happy for them, I truly am. But——–I am concerned. What is going to happen if the Cubs keep winning? It has been a tradition of “Next Year”, “It’s the Cubs”. If the Cubs are World Series champions, are the fans going to be prepared for 2017 and beyond? If they win it all will life as a Cub fan for present generations ever be the same? Will the fans be able to go back to years of disappointment and frustration once they have experienced success?

I must warn my friends and loved ones, be careful what you wish, hope and cheer for! You have been able to depend on the Cubs. There is something comforting and predictable about waiting until next year.

 

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