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What makes us love this game?

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  • What makes us love this game?

    [updated:LAST EDITED ON Dec-31-01 AT 11:25 AM (EST)]I was reading a bunch of past posts and noticed that we all do an awful lot of griping about what's wrong with baseball (and we do have a lot to gripe about), but there isn't a lot said about what makes us love baseball. What is there about this game that stirs the heart?

    My earliest memories are about baseball. I think I vaguely remember seeing my older sisters hanging a banner off the house celebrating the Amazin' Mets' win in '69, and I clearly remember sitting on someone's lap as they shelled peas, and everyone was watching a game on TV. My entire life has been infused with The Game.

    I love it when Spring Training starts. It's the middle of winter and here in New England we are covered in snow. There are months to go before there's even a hint of green in the trees. Days are still depressingly short, and it seems that spring will never come. Then, the ballplayers gather, and suddenly you realize that in six weeks, it's Opening Day! It'll be April soon! From the start of Spring Training, it's just possible to see the end of winter.

    I love the suspense in every pitch, which builds as each game progresses, and as the season advances. I love the sound of the crowd, their collective mood reflecting the action on the field. I love the sound of the bat hitting the ball, the sound of the ball hitting the mitt... the fraction of a second of breathless silence before the umpire calls the pitch a ball or strike, and the crowd's reaction to his ruling.

    I think of when they introduced the All-Century Team at the '99 All-Star Game, and when Ted Williams came out to throw the 1st pitch, and all the big-name ballplayers of the day crowded around him, grinning and excited like little kids. That was beautiful! And the day McGwire broke the home run record, and Cal Ripken's record consecutive game... and the little things, like a player handing a bat to a kid in the stands, and a tip of the cap to acknowledge the cheers for a home run or great pitching performance... There are a thousand other things, too many to list in one place.

    There's a lot I don't like -- the politics and avarice, one-upsmanship, grandstanding, the whole aspect of the sport as a business. It's a necessary evil. Sometimes I get so disgusted with this side of it that I think I won't want to watch anymore. But there's so much more that brings me back to The Game, every year. I love baseball; I always have. What is it that makes you other folks baseball fans?
    Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
    Remember Yellowdog

  • #2
    RE: What makes us love this game?

    What a great post, VT! :-)

    My dad and I went to Cooperstown (along with half of Kansas City) to see George Brett inducted, along with Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount and Orlando Cepeda. This was the same summer as that great All-Star game in 1999, and there were so many Hall of Famers on the podium: Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Bob Feller ... what an assembly!

    It was a hot day but the huge crowd didn't deem to notice. What struck us was the nice crowd from Milwaukee. We got to talking with some of the True Blue Brew Crew and it as obvious that they felt the same way about Yount as the KC fans did about Brett, if not more so.

    One of the younger guys was asking my dad about Bob Feller, who my dad listened to (and occasionally saw) as a rookie -- was he as fast as everyone says, and so on. And there were some Yankees fans there, naturally, and they were chatting with Royals fans and getting in some good-natured ribbing -- something I thought I would NEVER see! :-)

    And when Ted Williams was announced, well, you never heard such an ovation! A lot of the older fans, especially, and even Teddy himself would state that he was NEVER that popular as a player. Many fans at the time thought he was rude and self-centered and thought only about his hitting and not helping the team in any other way. Sound familiar?

    Teddy stated that he had the whole city of Boston in the palm of his hand and didn't even know it. But it was clear in the Summer of '99 that all was forgiven, and the passage of time had allowed his hardest critics to see him for what he was and is: a great ball player with all the frailties and weaknesses that ALL of us have, but a hell of a ballplayer first and foremost.

    Baseball must be the greatest game there is.


    • #3
      RE: What makes us love this game?

      I was in the late 50's when I caught the bug. I don't remember the exact instance, of course, but since then, it seems I've always had a glove.

      During the summers, we'd play every day it wasn't raining. I don't think we even counted the innings, we just kept playing until we got tired or it was suppertime. The only cause to shorten a game was on Saturdays. That's when the game-of-the-week was on CBC. In our neck of the woods, the game started at 3:30pm. So, at 3:00, all playing ceased and we headed home. It really didn't matter much who was playing, I was glued to the set until the final out.

      I played pickup games, then organized little league, and after my final year of junior ball, I stopped playing. Although I wasn't going to the ballpark a couple of times a week to play, I was still a fan and fit in a couple of local games when time permitted.

      I was 40 when I finally got back to the game. I was offered the position of manager/first base coach of a local senior team. I also had the option of playing should the need arise. The first time I took the field as a player, it was almost overwhelming. Here I was, 40 years old, and back on the playing field. As the saying goes, 'Oh, what a feeling!'

      Over the next 10 years, I played in all or parts of about 25-30 games. We won't talk about my batting average. After I turned 49, my body was starting to send me signals. I remember playing a game on a Friday evening and another on Sunday afternoon. Monday I couldn't even get off the couch, and it was Wednesday before I began to feel normal. Yeah, it was time to hang them up. But, I was at our next game, and would have played had I been needed.

      This year I'm eligible to play old-timers games. Seven innings, unlimited substitution, 10 guys on the field. And, oh yeah, just a lot of fun. So guess who'll be one of the first at the ballpark when the times are announced.

      For all you guys who've played the game, think about this.
      It's about 1:00pm on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July. It's somewhere about 70-75 degrees. You're about to play baseball. What better feeling can there be? You feel like saying, "Hey, guys, lets' forget the number of innings, forget who's winning, let's just keep playing until we're too tired to play anymore."

      Yeah, I've been a fan of the best game in the world for over 40 years. And I'll continue to be a fan for years to come.

      CBk Oldtimer #16 now #29


      • #4
        RE: What makes us love this game?

        >For all you guys who've played the game, think about this.
        >It's about 1:00pm on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July.
        >It's somewhere about 70-75 degrees. You're about to play
        >baseball. What better feeling can there be? You feel like
        >saying, "Hey, guys, lets' forget the number of innings,
        >forget who's winning, let's just keep playing until we're
        >too tired to play anymore."

        That just about brings tears to my eyes! I am speaking as one who was never even offered the opportunity to play baseball.

        That does it! In my next life I'm coming back as a ballplayer!

        Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
        Remember Yellowdog


        • #5
          RE: What makes us love this game?

          [updated:LAST EDITED ON Dec-31-01 AT 12:01 PM (EST)]Reading these posts and feeling the passion in all of what is being said is WHY baseball is such a great game.
          When you take the field you don't just go through the motions you are out there representing America's pastime. To have the approach of just filling a space is blasphemous at best. And when you snare a line drive or block the plate and apply the tag you smile because unlike Mick you CAN GET SOME SATISFACTION in knowing you did the job. And I just try try try try try every time I'm between the lines.
          And I feel the emotion in all the posts by VT, Yankees23, Ytown, to name a few. People who put their heart and soul in every post. Yous guys are greatly appreciated by this baseball loving fanatic.


          • #6
            RE: What makes us love this game?

            Perhaps one reason we love this game is because most of us first came to it as impressionable youngsters, when both we and the game were pure. Now, many years later, we're prompted by advancing age to look back fondly on those carefree days, when all that mattered was whether out home team won.

            The passion you express in your wonderful replies is exactly what I've felt for over 55 years, ever since Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers stole my heart.

            The best expression of that feeling is this short essay that was packed inside a Rawlings glove I recently bought for my grandson:


            A baseball glove is a beginning and an ending...a child's first sure step toward adulthood; an adult's final, lingering hold on youth.
            It is promise, and memory.

            A baseball glove is the dusty badge of belonging; the tanned and oiled mortar of team and camaraderie. In its creases and scuffs lodge sunburned afternoons freckled with thrills, the excited hum of competition, the cheers that burst like skyrockets.

            A baseball glove is Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, Johnny Bench, Ozzie Smith and a thousand-and-one names and moments strung like white and crimson banners in the vast stadium of memory.

            A baseball glove is the leather of adventure, worthy successor to the cowboys's holster, the trooper's saddle and the buckskin laces of the frontier scout. It is combat, heroics and voctory...a place to smack a fist or snuff a rally.

            Above all, a baseball glove is the union of family recreation and togetherness; a union beyond language, creed or color.

            Bless the folks at Rawlings for giving voice to our feelings.


            • #7
              RE: What makes us love this game?

              Baseball has such a universal appeal because, at least in my humblest of opinions, it mimics life itself. Each spring, everyone starts fresh, with unbounded hope and optimism. As the season progresses, some do well, others do not. And as October approaches, we are reminded of the finality of the World Series - another season has come to an end. And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface - all the games within the game (pitcher vs. hitter - pitch vs. baserunner - baserunner vs. pitcher - well, you get the idea), the rivalries, the "unknown" factor (read umpires) - the list goes on and on. It's simply the best game ever conceived!!
              "It is better to sit in silence and appear ignorant, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." -- Mark Twain


              • #8
                RE: What makes us love this game?

                One of things that I love about the game is that it is timeless.This is the same game played in the 21st century that was played in the late 19th century.You can sit at a game for as little as 2 hours or as long as it takes until there is a winner.

                It is a game that is passed down from generation to generation.It is the anticipation of going to the ballpark for the first time seeing your favorite team play.

                I fell in love with the game around 1970.I started out watching Cubs games on TV.Then in 1973 I discovered the White Sox,I immediately became a fan because I thought the had cooler uniforms(the red pinstripes),and a cooler scoreboard.As kids growing up playing,I wanted to be Dick Allen,while my friends wanted to be Billy Williams or Ron Santo.We would play in my yard because I had a bigger outfield.

                Baseball is part of our American fabric.It has been there in times of triumph and tragedy.from World War I,World War II,to most recently,September 11,2001,baseball has helped lifted our spirits and will always provide us with thrills or something that we have never seen before.


                • #9
                  RE: What makes us love this game?

                  [updated:LAST EDITED ON Jan-01-02 AT 10:39 AM (EST)]The game is incredibly timeless. Players today are so much bigger, faster and stronger, yet the dimensions of the 90 foot square and the 60 feet 6 inches from pitcher to plate are still perfect. Was it luck or genius? Who cares, Play Ball!


                  • #10
                    RE: What makes us love this game?


                    There are so many things that I love about baseball, that I simply cannot begin to mention them all.

                    My favorite part of the game is its simplicity. Its innocence, if you will. The fact that it is just a game. It is the same game I played as a child. The same game my father played as a child. And so on...It can be so exhilerating for people of all ages and from all walks of life.

                    I love the sound of the bat meeting the ball, or the ball popping into the catchers mitt. I love the smell of freshly cut grass and the wonderful aroma from greasy hotdogs being grilled. There is truly nothing like the smell of a ballpark.

                    I love BP and watching guys warm-up and work on the little things. I love seeing parents bonding with their kids, or the young kids carrying their mitts with them.

                    I guess I love most everything and anything about our great game, providing it does not start to deal with the economics or business of the game. Not that I do not follow or enjoy this aspect of the game, but this is where I can become bogged down and left alone feeling frustrated.

                    I am not sure if everyone can relate or not? I guess I am saying that I love the game on many levels. I always am overjoyed by my times of deep thought about a player, a team, or a specific moment in time, where I reach back into the history of the game.

                    Any moment where you may find yourself taking a break from the everyday life, whether alone in left field reading or dreaming, or talking with someone while fondly remembering or envisioning a moment or a player.

                    To me that is baseball.

                    mod for the 'Sox


                    • #11
                      RE: What makes us love this game?

                      This is kind of long, but after reading this thread, my mom wanted me to put down what she loves about baseball.

                      Mom was telling me about what baseball was like in the late ‘30s and 40’s – not big league ball, which she heard once in a while on the radio, but real, homegrown baseball, played by town teams on the ball field up behind the schoolhouse. Her dad had been on the team in his youth, and her uncles, and cousins, and family friends had played there through generations. They played rival teams from nearby towns. None of them were ever “prospects”; they didn’t play with any hope of reaching the big leagues. They played because it was Baseball.

                      The ball field was on a flat piece of ground, formerly a pasture. (A relatively flat piece of ground, I should say; this is Vermont, after all.) A little brook wound its way down off a mountainside and ran down one side of the field, with a fringe of alder trees on its banks. The “stands” were where the ground sloped up on one side.

                      She remembers how the sweet white violets that bloomed along the brook perfumed the air during early season practices, and how the summer sun, sinking to the northwest, tinted the haze over the ballfield orange and gold. She told me about how on hazy summer days when there was a game or even a practice, people would come and sit on the slope. Women would take off their shoes and sink their feet into the cool grass, and kids would pick ring-moss and make rings for themselves, and their parents, and everyone on the team.

                      Whenever the ball was hit past the alders and into the brook, kids would scramble after it, splashing into the water and fighting for the privilege of throwing it back to the players.

                      One player – the catcher – was a popular guy who went by the nickname “Bombay.” He was a big guy – I guess “portly” would be the polite way to say it. There was one time he hit a long, long ball that rolled into the alders and brush at the end of the field, and if he had run, it would have been an easy “in the park” home run. But Bombay liked to get a rise out of people, so he got down and crawled from third to home, with the other team searching for and relaying the ball back toward the infield. He was safe – but not by much!

                      Mom said that one day she didn’t want to go to the practice, but took her fish pole and fished all up the little brook, from where it joined the river to where it came down off the mountain. She said that all along the brook, from even a half-mile away, she could hear the crowd, and the crack of the bat, and the voices of the players shouting to each other, and she could match the voices to the faces, and almost see them as they played.

                      Mom and Dad met at a game on that field. She says she first noticed his jeep, but then saw him. I like to think that without baseball, I wouldn’t be here!

                      I still have the bat that one of my mom’s uncles used in those games, and an iron catchers’ mask used there in the 1880s. (An aside – that same uncle went to Boston in 1918 and slept on the floor of his cousin’s tea room, so he could see the Red Sox win the World Series.)

                      The ballfield is gone. A cluster of really ugly condominiums stands on that flat meadow now. I like to think that someday, when I’ve made my fortune, I’ll buy those condos and tear them down, and put a ballfield there again.

                      Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
                      Remember Yellowdog


                      • #12
                        RE: What makes us love this game?


                        Great stuff and thanks for having your mother share her memories.



                        • #13
                          RE: What makes us love this game?

                          This is a wonderful thread, guys!!! Don't know how I missed it till now. Your posts ALL brought back memories.

                          To this day I still get BIG goosebumps at the first sight of the field every time we arrive at a game. BP in progress; the sights, sounds, smells so unique to this game; its timelessness; the reverance for its history and its players; and the "humor" in the irony that baseball elevates the sanctity of stats to religion all its own, yet it's the only sport where the game is not played on uniform playing fields! (I know....I always get into trouble with that one...)

                          I started as a fan at age eight when Dad took my kid brother and me to our first game---AAA SF Seals back in the days when the Pacific Coast League actually consisted of teams along the Pacific Coast!!! I was fascinated and "hooked" that very day.

                          Perhaps the only thing that's different for me is that I've had the opportunity to interview many members from all levels of the baseball community in conjunction with my writing. Ninety nine percent of them were very impressive people who love the game as much as we do. (I didn't work with Bud Selig... :7 )

                          As your stories revealed, the love of The Game is more than a part of our personal history. It's part of who we are!! PLAY BALL!!

                          Nothin' like fun at the ol' ballpark!


                          • #14
                            RE: What makes us love this game?

                            What do I love about baseball? What's not to love? Of course, when I say baseball, I'm not talking about the money or the business or the ownership. I'm talking about the game.

                            It's a game we've grown up with (as much as we HAVE grown up) and that most of us played as kids. We know the basics and it makes sense. It's an intuitive game, one that doesn't need a lot of explaining (except maybe the infield fly rule...). And it's fun, fun to play, fun to watch, even fun to listen to on a staticky radio with the signal fading in and out.

                            The game is the point. It isn't the players who make the game, but the game that makes the players. Some of the most outstanding players aren't the ones with the most records or the longest careers, but the ones who put everything they've got into playing the game.

                            Going to the park, whether it's Little League or Legion Baseball, Minors or Majors, is an experience outside of daily life. For an hour and a half or two (or three, or more) nothing matters except the play. You don't notice your feet freezing at an April game. You don't notice the sunburn forming at a July game. Yes, you HAVE to go to the bathroom, but you CAN'T miss a single pitch. Nothing matters but that connection that the fan in the stands feels with the players and the field they play on.

                            There's a warmth that flows both ways. We LOVE these guys (even the ones we love to hate) and in return they love us, the collective fandom, waving signs and screaming ourselves hoarse. They are there for us, and we are there for them.

                            Baseball, for all the overpaid players and corporate-named stadiums and ever-rising ticket prices, has maintained its innocence. Technology has changed the equipment, and some teams have domes and Astroturf, but you can still play baseball with a stick and a roundish object. It's not such a long way from a skinny kid throwing a tape-covered ball of string up in the air and trying to hit it with a broomstick to the diamond at Fenway, or Wrigley, or Candlestick.

                            It's all a matter of letting your heart join into the magic of the game.


                            • #15
                              RE: What makes us love this game?

                              [updated:LAST EDITED ON Jan-15-02 AT 01:33 PM (EST)]With January just beginning, the ANTICIPATION of a new season always gets the juices flowing.

                              The prospect of all the new acquisitions gelating together with the stand-bys- who are the foundation of your favorite team- is enticing.
                              To me it is this ANTICIPATION (the downfall of all bad umpires, by the way) that makes all the sounds and smells so effective at the ball park.

                              It's the chance you might see something you have never seen before. Sort of an "expect the unexpected" type of thing happens.


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