Baseball is an All-American summer

By Staff
I grew up in a football household, so I didn't understand why they called baseball "America's pastime."
Since as long as I can remember the only sport that counted was football – specifically Alabama Crimson Tide football.
The only baseball I knew as a small child was three rocks for bases and a paper plate for home in the backyard. We didn't know many rules or any strategy, but it didn't matter.
So I was mystified by this thing that happened in the fall called the World Series. I didn't get it. I understood football.
But baseball? I tried to watch the World Series one week when that was all the other boys were talking about at school.
As a rank ignorant, frankly I was bored.
After college I worked as a "cub" reporter at my hometown newspaper and part of my assignment was photographing and writing about the youth baseball leagues.
That's when the light began to dawn for me. Those little kids were having FUN! And they were playing that game that I had found so incredibly boring years before.
In the first two years of my return to the Enquirer I got to cover two state baseball championships, a softball championship and a runners-up finish. I took a lot of pictures and wrote a lot of games. During those first two years I was constantly quizzing fellow workers about how to decipher a stat book.
Although I never played youth baseball, an appreciation of the game grew in me.
The other night I watched an episode of "Touched by an Angel" about a fictitious perfect game played between the "Montgomery Marquees" of the Negro baseball league and an all-star team that included "Babe" Ruth. The story was pretty good and the "Marquees" won, but right in the middle of it, all the exposure I have ever had to baseball came together. The truth of the old adage, "As American as baseball…" hit me like a ton of bricks and I realized why baseball, not football, is America's pastime.
Baseball is America and America is baseball.
Not all of it granted, but there is something in the game of baseball that reaches down into the heart and plucks the strings of patriotism the same way hearing Lee Greenwood sing "I'm Glad to be an American" does.
The strategy, the finesse, the sheer power required to blast a homer, the presence of mind to turn a triple-play, the ability to make the ball dance as it crosses home plate so that Mighty Casey goes down swinging.
There is in baseball an essence that screams "America" and even those who haven't played the game can sense it.
And it's universal. Little girls can play this game in a slightly altered form.
Sorry, but football simply can't touch it.
So Moms and Dads, even if you didn't play as a child, give your kids a chance to play if they want to.
Take them to the ballpark. Take them to a minor league game. Buy 'em some peanuts or Cracker Jacks. It builds a picture in the heart of what summers are supposed to be.
Be at the games.
Soak in America.

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