Monday, October 13, 2008

The Boys of Summer . . .and Indian Summer

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti

I have always loved sports. One of the reasons my husband says he fell in love with me was when we first began dating I would snuggle and watch Sports Center with him and really enjoyed it (maybe even enjoyed the Sports Center more than the snuggling). I like college football and the NFL. I like college basketball, especially the ACC and March madness. I like hockey games in person or during the playoffs, but I LOVE any and all baseball.

I don't know how it started really. I remember as a child listening to Indians games when my dad or grandpa had them on the radio. I learned to love the sound of the game. When I was 15 I started going to see a local college league play called the Staunton Braves. College players from competitive schools around the US would come and play in a summer league and stay with families in the community. I fell in love with the field, the smells, the setting sun on summer nights, and I was hooked. I loved the pitching most of all and the exquisite detail of the game. I began following the Atlanta Braves who had arguably some of the best pitchers ever during the summer of 1993 and almost a decade following. I had a poster of Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine hanging in my room. My friend Becky and I would drive down to see the Richmond Braves, the AAA team under Atlanta, and we swooned over Chipper Jones and Javier Lopez. In college I began following the Indians closer since my parents had moved back to Ohio, and I made friends with Marty Dzurenko whose dad and brother worked for the Indians and could always get us into the games. Who can forget when Manny Ramirez was part of the Tribe and the excitement of those chilly October playoff games at the Jake?

I will argue with you about which field I have visited is the best and tell you about the fields I still dream of visiting. I will tell you why I hate free agency and why if I could go back in time to do just one thing I would would go to a Yankee game and watch Joe Dimaggio, my lucky number 5, play. I will talk about baseball books I have read and the Ken Burns baseball documentary. I will tell you about watching the movie Field of Dreams 100 times and quote my favorite lines. Most of all I will tell you about how I love October baseball. No matter how tired I am I will stay up to watch the playoff games, and they have become as much a part of the season's routine as a trip to the pumpkin patch and planting mums. And when the last game of the World Series is played I feel sad, like a friend has gone away.

Walt Whitman said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." Granted he wrote this in a time when baseball was played with a "purity" we will never see again, but the heart of the game remains the same today. As I watched the Dodgers, Phillies game last night I did for a time forget about the failing economy, my day to day worries and even my horrible sinus headache, and I found it was a blessing to me. Part of my Simple Abundance journey is recognizing the gifts wrapped in the ordinary. This is the first time I have ever been consciously thankful for the simple gift of a game and relaxation and joy it brings me. And so I add the boys of summer . . . and indian summer to my list of a thousand gifts.

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