The first game of the World Series started tonight.
The only sport I grew up knowing anything about or having any regular interaction with was baseball. My grandmother used to tell us stories about her father taking her to see Babe Ruth play. Baseball is a powerful through-line for me in my family history.
For a couple of years we lived in South Dakota, within spitting distance of Minneapolis/St. Paul, and more importantly, the Minnesota Twins. My father was thrilled to take his twins to a Twins game. We were supposed to get rain ponchos as a giveaway, but for some reason, we didn’t get them. So my dad wrote them a letter and we received them. A triumph, even if they were crappy!
We moved to Florida when I was nine. Our hometown was also the spring training location for the Kansas City Royals. Terry Field felt like it was on the other side of the state, but I still felt their presence in town. My brother played in Little League, and one of the men who was deeply involved with Little League had ties to the MLB. We went to all my brother’s games, and worked the concessions. This was the mid-80s, and these cute little kids would come up to the window and ask for a “suicide” – a soda that was a mix of all the flavors.
A quick aside: when my brother was probably about 10, he had two loves – baseball and mythology. When we would have guests over, he would ask them, “What would prefer to talk about? Baseball or mythology?” We would not-so-silently urge the guest to pick mythology!
In 1986, the Little League bigwig scored tickets to the World Series games. To this day I don’t quite understand how it works, but it involved buying tickets for all the possible combinations and then getting refunds on the games that didn’t happen. So my dad got two tickets to a couple of the games in New York City. It was the Mets against the Boston Red Sox (I will admit I had to look that up). While my dad and brother went to the games, my mom and my sister and I traipsed around the city and shopped. I got a denim jacket that I never felt cool in, but did manage to decorate over the years with lots of fantastic buttons. I remember my dad and brother coming back from the game, elated, and regaling us with tales of rats in the subway. It seemed so horrifying and exotic all at the same time.
But I digress. Eventually my brother stopped playing baseball and I went to college and moved far away. And yet .. whenever I hear about a game, there’s a flicker of connection. I think about my grandmother, going to see Babe Ruth. And all the games I watched with my family. And then the games I’ve gone to, even when separated by a continent. When I was in Japan two years ago, even there I was thrilled to see on the news that the Hiroshima team had made it into their playoffs.
I’m sure people more eloquent than I have waxed prophetic about their love of the game. I wouldn’t know about that. I can’t speak to strategy or athleticism. I can’t even really talk about the history of the sport, although I did love A League of Their Own.
In August I got to go to a game through work. It was a
shutout no-hitter, and only the 5th in Mariner’s history. I texted my brother about it, and he told our father. The next thing I know, my dad is talking to me about it. It was another fabulous stitch.
When I enter a baseball stadium, it’s a form of time travel. The air holds all of the space-time continuum, and I sit there with the crowds and my family, connected throughout history to the present. And that is why I love baseball.