1855 days had passed since I had seen my love. Since my last visit, she has endured drug abuse, scandal, and a fall from grace. Yet here she is slugging away , shedding away the baggage of the past few year continuing to tug at my heartstrings, and those of the thousands of others that stand with me. I have finally returned my love. Baseball I’m back!
Baseball has never left my heart, but to walk into a major league ball park for the first time in five years was exhilarating. It was a familiar yet different experience for me. It was the first time I had been in a major league park other that the that of my home team. As I walked through the concourse of this new modern marvel, I couldn’t help compare it to what was familiar to me. The new modern take on the ballpark, seemed to pale in comparison to the modern classic styling of my home park. As I took my seat, I grinned with the excitement of a school girl. Yet in the pit of my soul I felt that I was cheating on the great love of my life. As I sat are cheered, I wondered why I felt this way.
Growing up, the football team had left in the middle of the night and the basketball team moved down I95 but showed their faces in town four times a year until they magically changed their name in 1996 both leaving baseball to rule the town. Baseball was the life center of the sports scene in my city and my heart. Baseball was at the center of my life.
During my adolescence the sound of Jon Miller calling play by play permeated my grandparent’s home as my grandfather listened to the game of the evening while relaxing in the living room. Hanging on every ball and strike, hoping that the home team will pull out another win. Wondering if the pennant or even the crown would be in our future, only to have those dreams dashed on most occasions.
Growing up is filled with memories of walking with my dad to the old stadium. With extra tickets in hand, taking any random neighborhood kid with us to see the old ball game. Taking the yellow school bus to the game with my mom and sister during her job’s baseball nights was the highlight of most summers as a kid. Baseball was a way in which family was able expressed their love and commitment to each other. This didn’t just end with family, baseball also became the bridge for my greatest and longest lasting friendships.
Sitting in that seat all of these images flashed through my head. I remembered playing little league, playing stick ball in the abandoned lot of my neighborhood, the desire to play in high school and not thinking I was good enough. I remembered the stars and heroes of my youth. Screaming “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie!”, waiting to see if the Iron Man would ever sit down, or just wondering “Why Not?” Feeling my memories of yesteryear intersect with the experiences of today. Watching the gigantic two run shot being hit to take the lead or the hustle of the opposing teams player as they extend a double in to a triple, it all embodied the spirit and essence of the game that I love so much.
Yet in my excitement and joy, it still wasn’t home. That O’s magic just wasn’t there. I still longed for the building that the Robinsons, Murray, & Ripen built. Screaming “O” during the national anthem and cheering for the birds win or lose.
Every strike, every walk, every home run brings forth the nostalgia of the past, the excitement of the present, and the hope for the future. I love this game, yet my heart belongs to one team and one team only. I cheer for them because they are my family, they are my city, they are me. I cheer for the love of the game.