Desiring Life

Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?

Baseball

My dad once told me that I had witnessed one of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters.  To hear that as a boy…the implications were endless. My chest stuck out more.  I threw harder and ran faster.  I hit two homeruns in my next Little League game.  Well, not really, but I had a part in history. 9 innings and 27 outs without a hit by the greatest fire baller to ever throw from 60 feet 6 inches.  Until the last couple years, the feat of a “no-hitter” was as iconic as a printed and bound book now (see Borders book store).  I had no memory of the game.  But who remembers things when they’re 2 years old?  My lack of remembrance mattered little at the elementary lunch room table.  But years later I got curious about which of Ryan’s seven no-hitters I saw.  He threw two in 1973, one in 1974, and one in 1975.  Four no-no’s before my parents had ever met.  No-hitter #5 occurred on September 26, 1981- almost a year before I was born.  Ryan then no-hit the Oakland A’s on June 11, 1990-certainly I would be old enough to remember this one as a 7 year old.  Doubt and dread accompanied my research.  My dad would not lie to me, but could his memory deceive him?  I needed the internet to discover that I did not see Nolan Ryan toss a no-no, and thankfully by this time my jungle gym friends were too far into their well-established middle school careers to care.

While I did not see one of Ryan’s no-hitters, I watched yesterday as the team he owns thrashed my boyhood (and manhood) team, the Minnesota Twins, 20-6.  It’s the end of July, the Twins have dropped to seven games behind first place in arguably the worst division in baseball, and I still rush to check the scores and standings each morning.  That is taking part in tradition.  It’s a hobby and skill to study the standings, one to be passed on.  I tried to teach my five-year old nephew the art a few weeks ago, but lost the battle for his attention to pancakes and syrup.

I love the timelessness of baseball, and I love the writers that capture the essence of it with words.  Last week’s Sports Illustrated published an article entitled “Loving Baseball: What keeps the grand game great? Everything old is new again…”  Here are some of my favorite lines:

Baseball is a game out of time.  This is the sport’s defining quality, its badge of honor.  The people who love baseball- the poets, the stat geeks, the bleachers bums, the second-guessers, the former pitchers, the collectors- we love baseball for its timelessness.

‘Keep the rally alive and you have defeated time.’ – Roger Angell

‘You made me love baseball.  Not as a collection of numbers, but as an unpredictable, passionate game beaten in excitement only by every other sport.’ –Lisa Simpson

Baseball is a game out of time…What else but baseball connects us to America of, say, 1891?

‘The meaning of baseball, eh?  Dreams and escape.’ –Vin Scully, Dodgers’ announcer since 1950

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One response to “Baseball

  1. Sparky July 26, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    It seems to me that baseball has been in my blood from the time I can remember. I was the kid who always rounded up the others in the neighborhood to get a baseball game started. I remember even batting cross handed at one time. How proud I was to earn my first Little League uniform representing Sears & Roebuck at age 9. About that same time ,a new invention called television changed baseball forever. As a result, I had the privilege of seeing Willie Mays make “the catch” in the 1954 World Series sweep of the powerful Cleveland Indians. Later, I saw him hit 4 homeruns in a game. I saw one of the greatest hitters of all time, Ted Williams hit a homer in his last at bat. I saw anothe great hitter, Stan Musial who was and still is one of the best human beings on the planet. I saw Don Larsen pitch the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956. I saw Roger Maris break “The Babe’s” homerun record in 1961. I saw Bob Gibson strikeout 17 in the 1968 World Series against the Tigers. I saw all or part of every no hitter of “The Ryan Express”. I idolized Mickey Mantle for so many years and it was painful to learn he wasn’t without flaws. Kids need heros and baseball has always supplied them. Perhaps you can tell it may have touched my life in a small way. In these times, we have so many choices for nighttime tv. For me, it’s how many baseball games I can surf.

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