It’s almost that time: Spring Training started in full force on February 15th – the first Spring Training game with Boston College is on February 21st – the first game verses a MLB team (T.B. Rays) is on February 23rd – The World Baseball Classic begins on March 1st – OPENING DAY is on April 1st – RED SOX VS. Yankees and OPENING DAY at FENWAY PARK is on April 8th – Orioles vs. RED SOX. BASEBALL IS ALMOST HERE! It’s almost time to…
Take Time to Smell the Rosin
Birds chirping and bats cracking, bees buzzing and bullpens humming, gardens growing and the fragrance of rosin blowing in the gentle breeze; summer and baseball are almost here! After a long cold winter, with only the Patriots, Bruins and Celtics to fill the empty void inside (and it does take three sports to fill that void felt without baseball being played), the hot summer nights and sizzling baseball rivalries will soon be back to warm our bones and engage our passions like no other sport.
My love (obsession) with America’s Summer Game started when I was a little girl. Childhood is not all its cracked up to be sometimes. Dealing with disappointments, experiencing the cruelty of other children, feeling lonely and alone, facing limitations of any kind, and just being different in any way can make growing up very difficult and seem like an endlessly long painful process. In order to cope with it all, some of you may have had teddy bears, some had imaginary friends, and others had your “blankies.” I had baseball.
As a child with a disability in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I did not attend public school, but had a “home tutor” until junior high school. As a result of not being in the mainstream school system, and having speech difficulties and mobility “issues” I did not have friends, except for my siblings. However, my brother and sisters had school friends, which left me with a lot of time on my hands. They tried their best to include me in their activities, but it’s a normal part of childhood to want to be with other children, and sometimes without your sister tagging along.
When my youngest sister started school, it happened… I started watching baseball on TV. Next, I read a book on the rules of baseball, then biographies on Sandy Kofax and Satchel Page. Before I knew it, I was watching every Red Sox game on TV. When the games weren’t televised (NESN and ESPN didn’t exist back then), I listened on the radio. I made so many new friends with my new found “love of the game.” Ken Coleman, Ned Martin, Johnny Pesky (sports announcers) were my friends, as were Yaz, Tony, Reggie, Rico, and all the other Red Sox players. Baseball was my best friend; my way of escaping the harshness of childhood into the fascinating and safe world of baseball, where I was the keen eyed critic and not the one being criticized and ridiculed.
Then, it happened (something I thought never would)…I grew up somewhere between the mid 70s and early 80s. I became an adult and actually had a life of my own, with things to do, places to go, and people to see. College studies and my new found faith in Christ took up most of my time. Baseball took a back seat and I became a casual observer of the game. Somehow, baseball became a casualty of adulthood and lost the magic of watching it through the eyes of a child. As most adults tend to do, I began taking things too seriously. The Red Sox not winning the World Series year after year and having a broken heart time and time again took a toll, but I still watched now and then.
Then, it happened… the sixth game of the1986 World Series. I was surrounded by Mets fans, because I was living in New York State at the time, and had invited some friends over to watch the game. It hurts too much to go into any more detail, only to say it was the last straw. I swore off watching or listening or reading about baseball for the rest of my life. The Red Sox were never going to break my heart ever again. The next fifteen years were my “Blackout Years” as far as baseball was concerned, and the baseball strike in the ’90s only strengthened my resolve to live a baseball-free lifestyle.
Then, it happened…right out of the blue, before I knew what hit me. The “baseball fan” I had buried deep down in the recesses of my soul started to stir within me. It all started in 2002, when my friend, whose first name is Fran , came to help with my Dad’s 80th birthday party and asked if I was able to get “the game” on TV. At first, I tried to resist by asking, “What game?”. But, it was no use. It didn’t take very much coaxing for me to turn on the kitchen TV to NESN. I was ready to end my “Baseball Blackout” for the love of the game that never really left. I gave the Red Sox another chance (and still another and another) and in 2004 they made my dream come true! The Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, by beating “the best team in baseball,“ under “the Blood Moon,” with the help of the “Bloody Sock,” after defeating “the Evil Empire,” in a historic come-from-behind seven-game victory! What more could the little girl inside me ask for?