Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Baseball is more than past time

You know the time is right when the major league baseball playoffs begin. The playoffs intersect with the change from summer to fall in the bluegrass state. During the spring the state is indeed about the grass, the flowers, and the fresh bloom. But the playoff season in Kentucky is about the change in colors of the leafs on the trees, the persuasion of the summer heat to the cool autumn nights, breathing the stress of the humid months into the cool evening air.

It's amazing the connection to the past time that can be felt having grown up with the baseball tradition. I am probably very fortunate, more so than most youngins' to have been the youngest of three boys. Some of my earliest memories are indeed of being at Eastern Little League in Owensboro.

The baseball tradition involved most everyone in my immediate family. That's what is so neat about my baseball connection. Of course my brothers and I have fond memories of our baseball years, but so does my mother, so did my father, my aunt and uncles, their children, and even some of my colleagues that I now work with in the community. There is something extra special about the baseball tradition that surpasses that of basketball, soccer, all of the other sports.

I have tried to make a personal commitment over the past few years to make myself sit down on a Sunday night to take in a Sunday Night baseball game with John Miller and Joe Morgan. I can still recall watching Joe Morgan play with the Cincinnati Reds. I cannot recall anyone to this day that had or has a quirkier batting style. He used to do this thing with his back batting arm (he was a switch hitter), that really serves no logic in terms of hitting style. It certainly had to be nothing more that habit, nervousness, or a way to fend off the demon spirits of strike out ghouls and hit batsmen. You ever see anyone mimick flatulence with their hand under their armpit? Call me crazy, but that's how Joe Morgan approached his batting sessions.

Baseball provides one of the very few organizational structures that nurtures the comfort of knowing right and wrong, but at the same time promoting a non-stressful, leisure atmosphere that simply puts one to sleep or forces one to relax and take in the daydream. You can look away for a moment during a game, miss something, and be able to come back and understand what has occurred in a short period of time. A little talent, a lot of practice, a little luck, and suficient patience can produce memories that will last a life time. Just ask my brother: no hitter in the semi-state. Just ask my family: the Gus Gesser ball diamond at Eastern Little League. Just ask me: go Red Sox, Keep the Faith.

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