The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
-Field of Dreams
The Mister and I have a 27-game package for the Detroit Tigers. We’re both huge fans and have been for life. We even went during the bad years. So when I’m not at home, the next best place to check is the ballpark, especially if it’s a Saturday night.
Last Friday night we were at a game not-regularly-scheduled for our package. So we had different seats in the bleachers than we usually have. As I watched the kids vie for a ball during the opponent’s batting practice, something usual happened–two kids dived for the same ball and ended up getting in a tousle over it. Before I knew it, one kid was crying and the other one (the bigger one who should have known better) had the ball.
Just then, the big kid’s dad yelled at him to give the ball to the little guy. At first, the little guy wouldn’t take it. He kept shaking his head and pointing back at the kid who held the ball. But eventually he did take it.
And this is where baseball truly inspires me…the kid who got the ball spent the rest of his time helping his new friend get a ball. When one of the outfielders would turn towards the bleachers to throw up a used ball, the little guy would point towards the big kid and yell and scream for them to throw it to him–the very kid who knocked him down and took his ball. And I thought to myself, “Self, sometimes this world isn’t so bad after all.”
Then there was last night. As I was leaving class, I called my mother. She said she couldn’t talk long as Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was in the 8th inning of a perfect game and she had to call my dad (who drives trucks at night) to update him on the 9th inning in a minute. I said I’d call instead and so I did. In those last few minutes of the game on my way home from school, on the phone with my dad, the game was tight but one routine play and one amazing catch gave him two of the three outs he needed.
For the third, a slow groundball headed towards first base. Cabrerra, the first baseman, went for the ball and Galarraga covered first base. The throw appeared to be in time for everyone in the stands and at home watching the television. But, unfortunately, the first base umpire thought differently and called the guy safe, effectively ruining Galarraga’s bid for baseball immortality–a perfect game.
But what amazed me when I watched the after shows was the smile on Galarraga’s face. Sure he was probably pissed as hell that the call caused him a perfect game. (In fact, the umpire has since admitted that he blew the call.) But instead of badmouthing the ump or cursing the gods, he simply was gracious that he had the chance to get that close. And if that isn’t a lesson we could all learn, I don’t know what is.
This is why I love baseball. I love baseball because there’s always hope. I love baseball because there’s no other game that captures the attention of a nation so magically. But I love baseball the most because so many of life’s lessons can be learned while playing or watching the game. It truly is the one constant that keeps us glued to our seats and cheering in the stands. It encapsulates everything about us that is right–and sometimes what is wrong.
It keeps us honest and striving for something more. And I think I’ve learned two important lessons from it this week alone.