Feb. 12th, 2011

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 Have you ever really thought about baseball? Not the game itself, but just that single, small, white ball?

They’re such hard things on the outside. Throw one at someone hard enough and it will hurt them. Hit one with a bat and it will fly through the air. These little white orbs are chased around by grown men, who are cheered on by thousands and thousands of others. Fathers toss them to their sons and daughters in backyard rituals; boys cherish the ones that are signed by their heroes.

An entire culture has sprung up around those baseballs. Think of warm, sunny afternoons at the ballpark, cheerfully heckling the batter or throwing popcorn at the man four rows down who is cheering for the other team. Remember when you ducked and shrieked with laughter when a foul ball came flying your way? Or how you would cheer and yell when the baseball goes flying – going, going, gone – and the hitter makes his triumphant lap around the bases? Those aren’t just your memories. Those are all of our memories.

There are those glorious nighttime games too, especially in the big cities. There you are, you and ten thousand of your closest friends, all gathered to watch the tiny men on the tiny field all playing a game with an even tinier ball. And you love it. You love the beer, the peanuts, the hot dogs. You cheer and thrust your chest out and howl with primal satisfaction when your team wins, and you wail and pull your hair out and slump in your seat when they lose.

It’s a religion, plain and simple. A religion of love and nostalgia, of family and childhood, of fathers and sons and beer and pretzels. A religion all wrapped up in a sphere of cork and rubber, of tightly-wound yarn stitched up in cowhide.

People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~ Rogers Hornsby


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December 2012

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