My old friend and Pulitzer Prize winning critic Jonathan Yardley has said "there are only two seasons, baseball and the void." I could not agree more and am rejoicing that we are coming to the end of the void this year. Major League baseball 2013 begins on Monday and Opening Day in San Diego is only nine days away.
I didn't always like baseball. In fact, as a child I hated it. My memories are of being stuffed in the backseat of the smoke filled car (with the windows all closed) between my older brother and sister with the Detroit Tigers baseball game droning on an on. My parents were baseball lovers and each year for six long months the game was always on the radio.
It wasn't until April of 1978 that I actually attended my first major league game. I had recently relocated to Baltimore and some colleagues persuaded my to take the afternoon off to see the game. I remember it all so clearly-- it was a beautiful warm spring day. Somehow we had seats right behind home plate and I was mesmerized and totally smitten as I am to this day.
Since that time I estimate I have attended more than 1000 major league games, having been a full-season subscriber for 16 years (in Baltimore and Cleveland) and sometimes attender for another 19 in Baltimore and St. Petersburg. The vast majority of these were with my beloved Walt,
although my kids did get to more than a few.
During that time I have been fortunate to be at the games which officially closed Memorial Stadium and opened Camden yards in Baltimore, and closed Municipal Stadium and opened Jacobs Field in Cleveland.
|Walt before attending "Blacktie & Baseball" to benefit the Babe Ruth Museum before the opening of Camden Yards in 1992|
I have attended four world series--two in Baltimore and one each in Cleveland and St. Pete-- as well as an All-Star game in Cleveland.
|All Star Game in Cleveland 1997|
Two and a half years ago I made a quick trip to Chicago to see the Tampa Bay Rays play the White Sox twice and attend a Cubbies game in historic Wrigley Field. While there it was my great good fortune to see a perfect game thrown by Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, quite a thrill.
Bart Giamatti former President of Yale and former baseball Commissioner, wrote a wonderful little book called "Take Time for Paradise." In it he said "the largest thing I've learned is the enormous grip this game has on people, the extent to which it really is very important. It goes way down deep. It really does bind together." I too believe this with all my fiber.
So here I am in San Diego, my first National League city. I need to learn new rules and all new players and become an avid fan in a new place for the fourth time. To get a running start, I bought a half season ticket for this year prior to moving into my new house last August.
April 9th is our home opener (my 36th consecutive) and I am thrilled that my daughter Beth of this very blog will be my guest behind home plate. 'Tis the beginning of a new tradition, I hope.