No, I’m not talking about relationships. I took some quiet time last night after the kids and Spouse went to bed. Yesterday was kind of a rough day and I needed some mindless television to go with my glass of Zin. I was channel-surfing when I came across the movie Field of Dreams. Good golly, how I love that movie. I watched the last twenty minutes, tears rolling down my face. It took me back to when I first fell in love with baseball.
My brother K played Little League. He’s almost four years older than me. I can’t tell you how many Saturdays we spent at the ball fields. Early on, it was more about the playground and snack bar for me. But then I started watching the games. I practically worshipped the ground K walked on. And he was kind of a good ball player. I learned the game, the strategies. I even learned how to keep score – a skill I’ve long since forgotten all the technicalities of. We watched a lot of baseball at home too, my mom being something of a Giants fan, and the rest of us A’s fans. We went to see the minor league team in our city a few times too. Baseball meant family, sunshine, hot dogs, peanuts, the crack of the bat, the sound of the ball hitting the glove, the smell of sunscreen, cotton candy, and popcorn.
It was when i was in college that baseball became an obsession. I had some friends on the team,and watching games was part of the social scene. I learned more about the mentality of the game and how it was played, all the unwritten rules, the superstitions. It made me love baseball even more. Baseball then meant ditching that last Friday afternoon class to go see my friends play. It meant double-header Saturdays. It meant friends, parties, and fun. It became part of the fabric of my college experience.
In the strike-shortened 1994 season, my brother and I shared season tickets to the A’s. And for many years, our entire family would tailgate at the A’s game for my Daddy’s birthday. In the years since, I’ve been to Spring Training numerous times, , paced the kitchen as the A’s pulled out wins coming down to the wire to win the American League West, left my son’s NICU bedside to go to the A’s vs NY Yankees in Game 5 of the 2000 AL Division Series, counted days from the end of the season to Pitchers and Catchers reporting, and basically made Opening Day a holiday in our household.
So as I was watching the movie last night, and James Earl Jones, playing Terence Mann, said:
Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
(credit: Field of Dreams movie, screenplay Phil Alden Robinson)
my tears flowed, because that’s what baseball is. I remembered when I first fell in love with the game, and I fell in love with it all over again.