Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Is Here; Time For A Man’s Fancy To Turn To Thoughts Of…

BASEBALL!  (So very sorry if you were expecting a lovely four-letter word.)
It’s only eight days until the start of the Major League Baseball Season, and here in the Pacific Northwest, for the first time in many years, we are thinking positively!  Our Mariners are finally (expected to be) contenders!
A secondary  baseball season is also beginning this year for our family.  Our second-to-youngest grandchild, Nathan, (photo above) is now old enough (6-1/2) to venture into his first taste of organized baseball, tabbed “Coaches Pitch.”  He follows his cousin Aubrey (now 12), who has played organized ball for several years.
Nice catch, Nathan! Practice hard!
Nathan’s season begins on April 14 and lasts until a week or so into June.  Which means this old grandpa has just about two months to vicariously re-live the experiences of his younger days.  It’s a metaphorical way to experience a resurrection, of sorts.  (Notice the subtle but intentional seasonal link to Easter.)

For me, admittedly good or bad, the start of the baseball season is about as close to a religious experience as you can get without it being a religious experience.  There is something about the aromas of freshly cut spring grass and well-oiled leather gloves coupled with the sound of the crack of the bat that evoke a visceral reaction in my being. 

It has been that way since I was a kid playing ball on a knee-skinning, asphalt-paved street corner intersection in the city of Chicago, where the four sewer covers served as bases and center field was an empty lot split by a power pole.  And where the Cubbies were already decades removed from a World Series win, and that was 65 years ago.

In those days Burt Wilson was the Cubs radio broadcaster (long before Harry Caray) and the team's outfield consisted of Hank Sauer (in left field) whom son Doug and I subsequently met at a U of Portland game in the 80’s in which he was scouting for the Giants,  Andy Pafko (center) and Frankie Baumholtz (right).  They were, unfortunately, “average or slightly above” players who have seemed to define the Cubs for almost a century now.  This year, however, could be different.  O, wait; we’ve said that for all of our lives, haven’t we?

Suffice it to say that when the MLB season begins -- usually right around Easter -- life appropriately seems to click into focus for me.  Daylight hours are increasing, grass is freshly green, trees are bursting into fragrant bloom, taxes are done, and baseball games count. 

Can it get any better than this?


Ed Wall said...

Hope it doesn't rain!!!!!!

Here in California we hope it does rain!!!!!

Ralph Higgins said...

It's strange, Rog. I have the same reaction when I smell spring grass and the echo of the "crack of a bat" bounces around in my memory.

Roger Koskela said...

Is it "visceral" like mine? Or is it just a reaction, like a blush? It's an important distinction, you know, for true baseball freaks :)