A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me what I was passionate about. Without hesitation, I said “Baseball.” Then, after taking a quick breath, I said “And Junior Giants . . .” I was about ready to blurt out a few other things I’m passionate about when he stopped me.
“What is it about baseball that you like?”
I described how the games are always interesting and you never know when you’ll see something new. I love watching the gracefulness of the players on the field. When I go to games it’s like being at my second home, and I get to spend time with friends I’ve made at the ballpark. There are friends where I sit, on the patio before games, at pre-season lunches. I was preparing to elaborate when he stopped me again.
“It’s more about the people than the game, isn’t it?”
Hmmm – I guess I hadn’t thought about it that way, but he was right. Just look at this blog. It’s not a baseball-statistics-analysis kind of blog. Rather, it’s about the heart of the game, the people.
My love of baseball has always been about the people. Growing up before girls had formalized chances to play, we’d gather for a modified game in the street or the local park. In 7th and 8th grades, it was recess or lunch. It was always fun just hanging out together, but also gave us a chance to run and hit and catch, and to show that we could keep up with the boys at ‘their’ game.
In 4th grade, on Mondays after school, I’d join the neighborhood girls to ride our bikes a few blocks away to wait for the Cub Scout meeting to end. We’d bring what little equipment we could wrestle away from our collective brothers since none of us had our own – a bat, 2 or 3 gloves, and a ball.
The boys would come out and play ball with us until they had to go home. Without the formal training that they had, we could keep up with them pretty well and had some rousing games in the street. That was before our dating days, and it was a very different time. When I started dating, my mother warned me not to beat a boy if I was trying to impress him . . .
Yikes! When I mentioned that advice many years later to an Australian friend, he told me, “Don’t you EVER let me win. If you can beat me, go for it! I’ll be really mad if you don’t do your best.” I’ve always appreciated those comments, and now I have no qualms about showing my baseball knowledge to any guy I meet.
So my passion for baseball is all about the people. I go to games as much for them as I do for what happens on the field. The fans I sit near at most games are an interesting group. Joan, to my right, knows much more than I do about strategy, players’ strengths and weaknesses, and what other teams are doing. She also likes martinis, and was originally led astray in that direction by the 2 innocent-looking ladies who sit in front of her.
Lincoln, to my left, wears his heart on his sleeve and dies a slow death when the team isn’t doing well. His passion can be a little intimidating. He also celebrates intensely and has surprised a few of my friends with boisterous, joyous hugs. His wife Jane sits to his left, although recently she’s changed the mojo by occasionally sitting next to me, or between me and Joan. Jane does an excellent job of walking Lincoln back when he gets too emotional, so she’s saved him from hyperventilation attacks. She’s also wickedly funny and isn’t afraid to lace her comments with markedly unladylike words. She keeps us in stitches.
I’m the one in the middle of our group who knows about the personal lives of the players, gets autographs, knows the history of the team, and understands that dressing for a summer Giants game is just like dressing for Antarctica. After a trip there, I finally ‘got it’ and am now rarely cold at games.
Don’t get me wrong – I do love what happens on the diamond, especially a well-turned double play that shows the gracefulness of the shortstop and second baseman. I’ve always been partial to infielders. When I saw Baseballet for the first time, I fell in love even more with the people on the field who make the game happen. This combination of ballet and baseball perfectly describes the grace of the game.
Baseball is my passion, and now I understand that it’s more than what happens on the field. Much more.