What Does Baseball Actually Mean to You?

Jan 19, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; After learning of his passing fans begin a memorial at the Stan Musial statue at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

It is now just about two weeks until the pitchers and catchers report to camp in Arizona. It is time for all of the baseball fans who are not NFL fans to come out of hibernation. Another long hot summer awaits.

The off-season can be a trying time for baseball writers. We are forced to be creative to find something that can help pull us through to Spring Training. Fellow writer Jordan Barhorst bides the time away playing Out of the Park baseball game. I use to play MVP baseball but haven’t in a while. Now I gripe at the dog and curse the TV commercials.

With the recent deaths of Stan Musial and Earl Weaver, I find myself thinking about how the game is now and how it was.

Baseball has a meaning all its own. It is universal, but not everyone’s meaning is the same. For example Baseball to a wife may mean that her husband will be watching TV for about eight months straight. To a little kid it might mean playing a game of sandlot with some friends.

What senses does the word trigger? What do you see? What do you feel? Can you hear the vrndors?

I want to take a few minutes and share with you what Baseball does mean to me.You can add your own when I am finished.

Baseball means the wonderful fragrance of freshly cut grass at the ball field.

Baseball is reading a book about Lou Gehrig called “The Iron Horse.”

Baseball means getting Al Kaline‘s autograph at DC Stadium in Washington.

Baseball is me thinking Dick Radatz was so big in the sixties (6-5, 235).

Baseball is me wondering what that path was for between the mound and home plate.

Baseball means waiting for the Sunday paper so you could see batting averages and other stats.

Baseball is the terrace at Crosley Field.

Baseball is Stan “the man” Musial hitting five homers in a doubleheader.

Baseball is southpaw Harvey Haddix pitching a perfect game for 12 innings before losing 1-0 in the 13th.

Baseball is watching the original Home Run Derby on Saturday nights on TV. Mark Scott was the host and he had two power hitters facing off each week. The winner came back until he was beaten. The first guy batted in the first inning, he played until he got three outs. An out was any pitch that was swung at and not a home run. Even if the ump called a strike on a pitch it was an out. They would rotate until the game was over.

Baseball is me watching a game in ’62 on TV and seeing a no-namer like Purnal Goldy of the Detroit Tigers hit two of his three career home runs.

Baseball is me leaving elementary school early so I could catch the World Series on TV with my Dad. They played during the daytime in the old days.

Baseball is going by Claude’s Place and picking up a pack of baseball cards for a quarter. There were five cards in there and the quintessential piece of gum. I can smell it right now. True story. I bought five packs one time and got four Eddie Kasko‘s.

Baseball is Dave Debusschere pitching for the Tigers after the basketball season. He was also a forward with the Pistons.

Baseball is Hank Aaron being referred to as a “wrist hitter”.

Baseball is Roger Maris beating Babe Ruth‘s home run record fueled by 3-packs of camels a day, no steroids.

Baseball is Aaron hitting No. 715 off Al Downing to pass Ruth on the All-time HR list. Both players had No. 44 on their uniform.

Baseball is southpaw Masanori Murakami pitching for the San Francisco giants as the first Japanese player in MLB history with no fanfare.

Baseball is thinking Pete LaCock had the coolest name in the league.

Baseball is two All-Star games in a summer (’59 – ’61).

Baseball is eight teams in the AL and eight in the NL. No playoffs. Win pennant or go home.

Baseball is Don Drysdale pitching high and tight to Frank Robinson. Low bridge!

Baseball is Pete Rose running out a base on balls.

Baseball is a starting pitcher completing the game.

Baseball is wondering exactly when Richie Allen became Dick Allen.

Baseball is Denny McLain winning 31 games in 1968, winning Cy Young award and in ’69 becoming only the second man in history (at the time) to win back-to-back CYA.

Baseball thinking how big and mean Bob Gibson looked although he was only 6-1, 189.

Baseball is listening to Waite Hoyt broadcast a Reds ballgame on the radio while he gets jacked up on Hudepohl.

Baseball is Pitcher Juan Marichal taking a bat to the head of John Roseboro in 1965

Baseball is Charlie Finley not signing Don Sutton because he didn’t have a cool nickname.

Baseball is the Green Monster in Fenway Park.

Baseball is the ivy covering the walls in Wrigley Field.

Baseball is playing a board game called Strat-O-Matic.

Baseball is Pete Rose bowling over catcher Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-star game.

Baseball is me putting a curse on Bowie Kuhn (I hope he rests in peace) and Charlie Finley (may he rest in peace)  for making All-star and World Series games to be played  under the lights.

Baseball is saying a premature goodbye to the great Roberto Clemente.

Baseball is the Houston Astros uniforms looking like they came from a beer softball league.

Baseball is Curt Schilling‘s bloody sock.

Baseball is Roger Clemens saying he doesn’t give a “rat’s ass” about the Hall of Fame.

Baseball is thinking that Sean Penn could play Khalil Greene if they made a movie about him.

Baseball is thinking that Will Smith should play Robinson Cano if they make a movie about him.

Baseball is thinking that the American Psycho, Christian Bale could play Homer Bailey.

Baseball is Lyman Bostock being at the wrong place at the right time.

Baseball is thinking how cool the Pittsburgh Pirates looked with their 18 combination color coordinated uniforms in 1979.

 

Baseball is me putting a curse on the Player’s Union for striking in 1981.

Baseball is the Atlanta Braves (America’s team) being the only team to have cable coverage of all their games.

Baseball is me putting a curse on Bart Giamati (wish I could take that one back) for levying a lifetime ban on Rose, preventing him from consideration to the Hall of Fame.

Baseball is me putting a curse on the Player’s Union for striking in 1994. I quit the game completely until 2006.

OK now I am bummed. It can get like that, cause all memories are not necessarily the best ones. But, you know what? There are much more Lou Gehrig’s, Stan Musial‘s and Hank Aaron’s than there are Roger Clemens and Juan Marichal’s.

What is your story? What is baseball to you?

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Read more of my work on my MLB blog.

 

 

Topics: Baseball History, Frank Robinson, Pete Rose, Stan Musial

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