A Bit of Nostalgia

So Christmas has come and gone and left its mark on the world. Gifts were given, Christmas shows were watched, food was eaten, people were visited and… to be honest, I’m glad it’s over. I’ve never been a big fan of the Christmas season, but I try to be cheerful and I try to get into the Christmas spirit…

But, really, sometimes it’s just hard to… Then other times it’s not so tough… I’m not sure which one it was this year, maybe an in between?

For those out there, I hope you all had a great Christmas.

And Ma Nature was only a day late for us. We almost had a white Christmas. But, she gave it to us on Boxing Day so, I guess that means we have a white Boxing Day instead. This means I have excited children, even if the snow is only sticking on the grass in the front and melting in the back—yeah, I know, it’s weird.

This post is not about Christmas though. It’s about Baseball. No, not professional baseball, but baseball in its purest form: little league, tee ball, coach’s pitch… yeah that baseball. Wow, I just used the word baseball four times… oops, now five times in one paragraph. Oh well. Baseball…

On Christmas Eve my wife and daughter did the annual women’s shopping that her family always does. In the meantime, that left the boy and me together. We ate at Arby’s and then played Star Wars. Guess who won? I can give you a hint: it wasn’t me. After that we went to the park, played chase.

Ohh, let me tell you what that stinker did. He fell down while I was chasing him. When I caught up to him he was on the ground and I was about to attack him (because that’s what monsters do, yah know) and he cries out:

Logan: Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Me: Are you okay?
Logan: I hurt my leg. I hurt my leg.
I helped him up and brushed his pants off.
Me: Which leg did you hurt?
Logan, as he runs away: hahahahaha… stinker…

Yes, he tricked me, much like his mother does.

We left that park and went to the baseball park where my son hopped on his scooter and rode around the ball fields. As he did this, I walked onto the first field, looked out over the red clay infield and the once green but now brown grass. The bases were still in place. Lying between second and third just on the outfield grass was a baseball. I walked onto the field, picked the ball up and gripped it tight. I rolled it over on my palm, ran my fingers along the strings, rubbed the ball, wiping away any wetness that may have still been on it from the rains a few days earlier.

Being a writer, my mind began to roam. I stepped off the field and back through the dugout. My son was doing ‘tricks’ with his scooter and I watched him, a smile on my face. When he raced off, I followed, passing the concessions stand in the center of the complex. By then baseball was entrenched in my mind.

I love baseball. Understand this, I’m no longer a fan of pro baseball—PED’s and money hungry players and agents, cheaters and teams trying to stack the tables so they can win. I’ve lost a lot of respect for the professionals—it’s a game and they’ve lost sight of that. I love the little leagues, when the kids are still kids and enjoy playing (if not practicing) the game.

I love the smell of fresh cut grass, the sound of the ping of bat on ball, the kids cheering for each other and making calls at the other teams: We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher and other sayings that really make no sense at all. I love the tastes of hot dogs and chili fries and nachos with cheese. I love the sound of parents cheering and boys laughing. I love coaches who want to teach (not so much the coaches who only want to win) and kids who want to learn. I love pre-game batting practices and getting to the ballpark just a little early. I love when the lights come on, bathing the world in a white glow that centers on the diamond. I love when the children play the game and it’s still about having fun.

That is the baseball I love.

As I watched my son, I recalled the two seasons of Tee Ball that he played and how much fun it was, not just to watch him and the other kids playing, but helping coach the teams.

It took me back to when I was a kid. I wasn’t a very good hitter, but I was an okay fielder. I would have never made baseball a career—definitely never was good enough to do so. However, I miss the feel of playing, the anticipation of stepping onto the field, of how it felt to catch a ball and throw it to first base, to swing and miss or, if I was lucky, make contact. Boy, I miss those days…

If you have children or even if you don’t, go out to the ball field one day, listen to the sounds, watch the joy in those wondrous faces. If you’ve never loved baseball before that, you will by the time you leave…

For now I’m AJ and I have children who want to go outside and play in the spotty snow…