Wednesday, April 5, 2017
The summer after my dad's death in August of 1952 my mom took my brother and myself to a major league baseball game at the now demolished Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Cleveland Indians were playing the St. Louis Browns, the present day Baltimore Orioles, our seats were in the upper deck and if you're not familiar with the old Municipal Stadium it was large cavernous structure that seated over 70,000 people which is about twice the capacity of present day ball parks. My first glimpse of the playing field back in 1949 took my breath away with it's expanses of green bent grass both infield and outfield the likes of which I have yet to see to this day. I guess it was love at first sight because after this initial exposure I knew I wanted to play this game which I eventually did in the vacant field across from my boyhood home to Little League, American Legion Ball, high School, college, and semi pro sandlot. I was a left handed pitcher gifted with a strong arm and I enjoyed moderate success with a perfect game in Little League and a no hitter in high school and pretty much mediocre the rest of the way but still even to this day it's a game I love to immerse myself in even though my playing days are long over. All this I owe to my mom who was instrumental in introducing me to the game and I just can't thank her enough for what continues to be a rewarding experience whether it's a game I'm watching on TV or if I happen to be at the ball park in person. And it continues to be not so much about who wins or loses but more about those sensory experiences like the sound of a baseball on a wooden bat, the crack of ball against the leather mit, the sound of an umpire calling balls and strikes, a white baseball against a background of freshly cut green grass, perfectly striped base lines and white hollywood style bases. Then there is the magic of night baseball which offers no distraction other than directing your attention to the play on field and the field itself where the lights bring a level of intensity that day baseball seems to lack. So thanks mom for all of it, for getting me involved with playing, with watching, and with soaking it all up.