Something About the Sound
When I was a young boy, I loved baseball. Anywhere, anytime, if there were six of us friends together, we could find a way to have a game. In the neighborhood, we played with old dented bats and tennis balls (so not to break a window or house) but if there were enough of us to make it worth while, we would wander to the field a the east end of the street and use the real thing.
I played little league from the time I was 7 until turning 12 and though I was never a great hitter, I loved everything about playing-The dirt in your shoes, on your face, in your mouth. The friendships, the feeling of stretching a single into a double, scoring a winning run, losing a close game, or making the catch that seals victory for your team. I even loved the cold weather games, when the rain or wind made things miserable. As soon as winter ended, when practice began, I looked forward to that first swing, when the pain would run from your fingers into your wrists. Ah, memories.
Somewhere along the way, time and my life took my passion for baseball. Soon, I lost track of favorite teams, players, everything. I would play softball with friends or co-workers and remember that I loved the game, but it was never enough to make me work to watch it or play it.
Today, my brother invited me to attend a day game for the local triple A club. I gladly agreed (suite tickets make that part easy) and as we settled in, I felt a rush of memory and affection for the game. I thought of these guys, playing a game they love for almost no money, and no real hope of making it big anytime soon. I watched them warm up, throwing the ball around the diamond and I envied them a bit. Following your passion is rarely an easy option for most of us and few are ever able to get paid for that passion.
When the first player made good contact with the ball, the sound of the impact struck deep in me. I LOVE the sound of the ball on a wooden bat. It is hard to describe the impact, but there is a deepness to the sound, a violence, a transfer of energy that resonates through the stadium.
Baseball is a game of sounds and smells for me. I vividly recall burying my face in a new glove, inhaling the oils and leather, chewing on a tie strap. The smell of the grass, the sound of chatter from teammates, the whooshing of the ball as it flies towards you after being hit. The impact in your glove.
The first time I sat near a bullpen, hearing the ball as it left the pitchers hand, rifling, curving, sliding towards the catcher at high speed, I remembered the fear I always experienced coming to bat. Standing in the box, waiting for the pitch, is one of the most nerve wracking things a human can experience. Even as a young boy, I would start to sweat, feeling my pulse quicken as the boy across from me threw a fastball towards the plate. I admire those who can stand in front of a ball coming at them in excess of 90 mph and not flinch, let alone see the ball, read the pitch, make solid contact.
I have that feeling in my blood again. Baseball is back for me, at least for now. And after all, now is all I really have anyway.