Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Baseball Is So Important To Me.

I was obsessed with baseball as a kid.  I was mesmerized by the magic feeling of walking into the ball park where everything was larger than life.  I collected baseball cards (a collection of several thousand cards that I still have to this day) and I knew all the players stats off by heart.  I used to record the games I watched so that I could play them back later and analyze them.  I was also a scrawny kid and I remember one baseball highlight video that said "in baseball the little guy can make it."  I would practice outside for hours, many times until well after dark.  I would write to my favorite players and some of them even wrote me back! My first job was working for the Seattle Mariners farm team the Bellingham Mariners.  I saw Ken Griffey Jr play his first game as a minor leauger as well as his younger brother Craig.   My Dad's favorite sport was baseball - he was born in 1931 just outside Boston and he would share stories of the great players throughout history.  I also remember him cheering the loudest for me in my games.

However there were a few things that really drew me away from the game.  The baseball players strike really ruined the view I had of my heroes.  Instead of being amazing people I wanted to be like, I just saw them as greedy - plus they took my game away.  I also was injured pretty severely, being knocked out several times I developed a fear of the ball.  There were some rule changes in the game which allowed for interleauge play between the National Leauge and the American Leauge.  I thought that ruined the idea of the World Series (I still feel that way) and it was just a ploy to make more money.  There were all the instances of scandal and illegal performance enhancing drugs that skew the time honored statistics that I poured so much of my life into.  But perhaps the greatest defeat for me in my love for baseball was that my Dad was always too busy or too tired to play catch with me.

It wasn't until years later when I was able to realize that I had been living my life trying to please my Dad all the while trying to just get him to play with me.  It had been a difficult road.  He and I fought a ton while I was in highschool and early into college.  Finally a pastor helped me to realize that I needed to go back to that memory in my mind and forgive my dad as the boy with the ball glove on.  I did and since then my attitude and respect for my Dad has increased ten-fold even though we often have differing opinions.

After a seven year hiatus of  following baseball I tuned in and listened to many of the Seattle Mariners games this year and I found that the magic I felt as a boy was returning to be me again.  I wasn't sure why.  I thought maybe it was because I had a boy of my own and I wanted to pass on something of a family history.  In any case I really fell back in love with the game.  On a family vacation we were watching the movie City Slickers where three friends in a midlife crises follow the call to the wild and drive cattle across the plains.  It is a really cheesy movie, but there was one scene that almost brought me to tears as I realized that it was baseball that was restoring my relationship with my Dad yet again.  Here is the clip

The clip may or may not work but it is a general discussion about baseball and why guys are obsessed with it.  The girl is talking about how real life revolves around relationships.  Then one of the guys answers with this quote:  "You're Right I suppose, I guess it is childish but when I was about 18 and my Dad and I couldn't communicate about anything at all, we could still talk about baseball - you know that was real."

I can really talk to my dad again and I would say that is thanks to Baseball.  If you follow me on twitter and ever get annoyed at my rants about Major League Baseball or the Seattle Mariners when you signed on to learn more about being a Youth Worker realize that maybe my love for baseball and the restoration of my relationship with my dad have a lot to do with what make me the wort of youth worker that I am.  So root root root for the Mariners, if they don't win it's a shame.  For it's 1-2-3 strikes your out at the old ball game!
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