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