Journeys: How to Love Baseball While Knowing Little to Nothing about It
Whether you’re a fan for life or an ultra casual like me, baseball is a sport for the summer
Photo by Eric Hood/Fotolia
I don’t follow any baseball teams, but I like going to games. Sitting in the stands, the conversation can float up in the air between the rhythm of pitcher and catcher, but all of that relaxation can be gone in an instant with the crack of a bat. I always like to grab one of the free programs with the columns of bases and make half-correct dots and notations to follow play-by-play, too. Whether I just like the indirect participation and the focus it asks of more or if I just like feeling official, writing in those little programs are a tradition.
Some of the games admittedly blur together, but certain moments at some of my first games still stand out, like the excitement of when former Minnesota Twin A.J. Pierzyski hit a homerun. (Between him, the rise of Joe Mauer, and the fact that (if I remember right) Kurt Suzuki apparently spears fishes means I’ve always had an affinity for catchers.) At my second Saints game, my stepbrother both finagled his way over the riser barrier to reach a stray baseball and, when challenged by an announcer, choked down several spoonfuls of evaporated milk powder on the big screen to be named the game’s nuttiest fan—he earned himself a 10 pound Pearson’s salted nut bar for that one.
Flash forward to this summer, and we have the first T-ball game I went to. Basically what that game taught me was follow through. No matter how much sooner the runner got to the base, the defense always had to tag. It was building muscle memory, you know? Some of the parents would go from the grass to the field to the dugout depending on if they were needed as an impromptu coach or moral support, and although I wasn’t the one playing, I felt encouraged just by hearing the parents cheer on their children.
Everyone was armed with snacks as they stretched out on the sidelines and the bleachers, and during some of the innings, my friend and I took a break to play tag with two little children. One insisted on tagging me and then saying time out when he was tired, and the other was very sweet and not only asked if she was invited to my wedding (which she had just learned about) but also if she could be my flower girl. (Her mother gave me a break and told her normally the bride has to know the flower girl for more than a day.)
Baseball is something I dip my toes into once in a while, and I won’t lie: I will say I like it, and I do, but it’s definitely not a love, if that makes sense. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Also this summer, I swung a bat for the first time in years and remembered I’m slightly afraid of catching baseballs, but I also got to eat some made-on-the-grill brats and be outside with friends. When I go to a game, I get a few hours blocked off for nothing but fresh air and relaxing with people I love. Even if you like your sports a little more fast-paced, remember that if you do get invited to watch or play some baseball, it’s not all about baseball. It’s about spending time with friends and family.