Play Ball!

After what I have often described as “the long, dark season of basketball and hockey,” baseball is back! I am, fortunately, married to a woman who loves our national pastime at least as much as I do. We even root for the same teams — Yankees in the American League, Cubs in the National. Wait, let me explain!

I have been a Yankees’ fan since I played Little League and, at the age of about 11, was able to sit in the dugout at what was then Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida at a Spring Training game between Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees. I sat next to Yogi Berra and was even given a Yankees’ bat boy cap to take home with me. My cousin was sports publicity director for the University of Florida and had arranged this unbelievable opportunity.

Those were the days of Mantle and Maris, Whitey Ford and Yogi, “Moose” Skowron, Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek and so many more. I tracked the box scores every day, knew their batting averages and ERAs. I watched them on TV when I could, listened to the radio when I couldn’t, and got to Spring Training games from the time I was about that age until I took my kids to them in the 1980s.

When I worked for the Episcopal Church in New York for nine years, Susanne and I attended a number of games in the old (and new) Yankee stadium and watched them on the YES television network almost every game. We even kept scorecards in our living room end table. Those were glory days for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and before A-Rod’s disappointing decline. They were fun to watch.

My grandmother was a devoted Atlanta Braves fan, so I used to root for them while I growing up in Florida and could get the games on the Turner Broadcasting Network easily. That all changed when I went to seminary in Chicago. It was there that I fell in love with the Chicago Cubs. In those days, I listened to Jack Brickhouse broadcast the game when Harry Carey was still the mouthpiece for “those other guys.”

I was also not beyond cutting systematic theology classes to hop the L train to Wrigley Field whenever I could during the season to enjoy them in “the Friendly Confines” and in person. I have never enjoyed watching anyone play the game quite so much as Ernie Banks. Like most Cubs fans, I became accustomed to rooting for the “lovable losers” and joined in the refrain “Wait ’til next year!” every disappointing Fall.

It looks like this year, we may assume the unusual (for us) role of cheering on a winner. The Cubbies’ rebuilding efforts appear to have paid off and, barring injuries, choking, or the famous curse, they may well get into the World Series. We are so hopeful about the season that we have tickets for their last game of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals — in Wrigley Field!

It doesn’t get any better than that.


One Response to “Play Ball!”

  1. Cynthia Hallas Says:

    Go Cubs!!!

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