We all remember our first love. No matter how things ended, we all remember their name, where we met, how long things lasted and that feeling we had during that time. We remember the good and bad but only hold on to the good. It was good for us then and if you really think back to your first true love, you learned more about yourself during that time than you could have ever imagined. But the past is past and we have all grown from that first love. Many of us have moved into a marriage with someone totally different and that’s a great thing! Some of us still have contact with our first love. Some don’t. For some, things ended about as good as they could have as you both went separate ways in life. For others, there was deep and hurting pain that still lasts. But no matter what, we all remember that first feeling of love.
Each spring, I think back to my first love. Not the love of a person but my first love in sports. Baseball. Baseball has been a part of my life since I can remember. As the season gets closer and closer, all other sports have stopped and baseball gets all of the attention. It’s the American past time and sadly, many people don’t see the beauty in baseball any more. It’s not a fast game but it’s a game where strategy pays off more than talent. Perhaps that is why it’s not as popular as it once was; now days, we want fast paced, lots of scoring and not much thinking. This is not the way baseball is played.
But baseball is the one sport everyone can play and it was the one sport where us, as little boys, could sit out in the field and pick weeds and our noses and not have a care in the world. It was the place where I, like many of you, could step from behind the backstop fence and not have any worry, except the worry of having a ball hit our way. It was the place where, as we ran the wrong direction, our parents and coaches would scream, “Run to first, NOT THIRD!” after we hit a full swing bunt. It was the place where many kids found friends and many parents huddled under the one shade tree to keep from getting too burned from the pounding sun. It was the place where we could be the best, even when we weren’t close to even being good. It was where many of us found what it was like to sit in a dugout by ourselves and watch our teammates play the game we loved playing. It’s where we, if coached correctly, learned the value of a team and how encouraging one another could lead to a 2 out rally to win the game. It’s where we learned at any moment, the most unlikely person could step up to the plate and become a hero. It’s the game that when we couldn’t play any more, we did everything in our power to hold on to it because we knew we would miss it.
As I got older, my love for baseball faded for some reason. I was a changed person and another sport began to take hold. I had a new love and it was football. It was the sport my Dad played and the place I can get lost in for hours on a Saturday afternoon. Just ask my wife! But no matter how much I love football today, there’s just something about baseball that makes me smile. Maybe it’s the game. Maybe it’s because over time, I’ve learned the value of the game. Maybe it’s because it takes me back to my childhood. But mostly, I think it’s because it’s the one place where my son and I can spend hours throwing a ball, not say one word to each other and at the end of our time say, “That was an amazing time!”
Yes, I think that’s why I’ve fallen back in love with my first love of baseball; it’s what my son and I do together and it’s a special time for us boys! I look forward to watching G play another season and learning more about this beautiful game. I leave with this quote from Field of Dreams that sums up how I feel about baseball;
“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.”