The Meaning Of Baseball Essay, Research Paper
Baseball is the language of both children and adults and can tell a story about the life of a man. When I was a boy baseball was a dominant force in my life as well as in the lives of those around me. I was sure that it had the potential to bring my father and I together.
During my childhood, nothing captivated me like baseball. Baseball was freedom from household chores and the dreariness of my family home. Baseball was a mixture of skill, love and aggression: skill – if you weren’t at least somewhat good you wouldn’t get picked; love – it was the reason for playing; aggression – it was a part of the game because of our immaturity and it mostly came in to play when we were losing. I started playing at the age of five; by ten nothing else mattered.
Baseball ruled my life. I perceived it as a bond which would hold me close to my father. After all, it was a mutual love. Carl Yastremski and Rod Carew were my favorite ball players, I spent hours imitating their batting stances. Both Carew and Yastremski were hitter’s hitters. Each year they would lead the league in batting average and in singles. They played conservative, team oriented, baseball. They played to advance their teams standing, not their own. When I was on the field I would imitate defensive specialists like Bucky Dent or Craig Nettles. Specialists yes; hot shots no. One of the few times that I imitated a hot shot, namely Ozzie Smith, I got hit in the eye with the ball. The ball jumped off the bat and screamed at me with a hissing sound known only to the ears of frightened little leaguers. It was coming fast, too fast, faster than I could raise the glove. Then, “wham” I was on the ground.
Even with all my skills at imitation, I wasn’t a very good player. Unfortunately, I was afraid of the ball. I wasn’t afraid when I was on the field, only when I was batting. It was the cardinal sin of baseball. Even pitches on the outside of the plate made me take a step back. As a child, I always wanted my father to come to games and to be proud of me. The problem was that he rarely came to games; he even forgot to take me a few times. Sitting on the front porch waiting for him to show up, those were some of the longest days of my life. As I grew older, I would ride my bicycle to the field. It was a few miles to the field. I would come home from the games filthy and smelling of baseball dirt. It was an odd mixture of the smell of a powder fire extinguisher and vanilla ice cream. Then I’d lie. I would say I hit a home run, two doubles and a single. The reality was more likely a single, a couple of strikeouts and a ground out. As I grew older my love for baseball began to die. I argued with coaches and reached all-time lows in performance. I was often the worst offensive player on the team. The coaches always asked me why I didn’t practice. Didn’t they know I’d been practicing for years?
As a youth, I viewed my father as being far away from me, but thought that maybe baseball could bring us together. My father told me stories about baseball being the national pastime. He told me about the great Yankee teams of his youth (the 50’s). He told me about Casey Stengall, and about how Stengall led the Yankees to six straight championships. Champions and baseball were different when he was coming up, so he said. He used to tell me how important playing was, then he’d forget about my next game. He had a season ticket to the local triple A team: the Rochester Red Wings. One seat for one man. My father preached good things to me, but he was inconsistent. His favorite players were Joe DiMaggio when he was a youth, Reggie Jackson once he was an adult. Both of his favorites were so-called team saviors. They were big strong home run hitters who had big popular appeal but low averages. When it came to baseball my father was almost untouchable, be it his Red Wing games or his beer-filled bouts with the recliner and the T.V.. Maybe if our players had been more alike we would have had a better father/son relationship. But his players weren’t like mine and he never let me forget it.
Baseball is a game where nine men stand together and help each other. They do so to better themselves and the team. They do so in order to achieve small successes game by game so that hopefully one day they will be champions. Baseball is a game of rules. There is no maybe, only yes and no. Baseball is about relying on others. It is about group respect and group achievement. Baseball is about practice. It’s a game that creates togetherness among the participants through interdependence. Baseball is reality. According to Merriam – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, baseball is “a game played with a bat and ball between two teams of nine players each on a large field…” (95). If only life could be as simple as dictionary definitions.
Baseball is a game loved in homes all over America. It has captured the minds and imaginations of both fathers and sons. Baseball has the potential to bring fathers and sons together. Unfortunately in retrospect, it only shows me how far apart my father and I were.