It was called our “National Pastime”; well, it still may be called that, but with the popularity of Football the allure for most has diminished over the decades for the sport.
Not for me.
There is nothing quite like the ballpark. There is something awe inspiring as you approach the park. A place larger than life that looms over you asking you – no, begging you – to be a kid again. A place that sparks a nostalgia merely from the smell of grilled onions and hot dogs upon entering the stadium.
Immediately you remember being there with your dad as a young kid; walking next to him excitedly and anxiously; your ball cap too big for your head; your pencil and scorecard clutched tightly in one hand; your baseball glove fitted snugly on your other as you walk to your seats hoping to meet your favorite ball player, get an autograph, or catch the ever-elusive foul ball.
There was something special about the ballpark, something magical. The smell of the freshly mowed grass, the crack of the bat, seeing your heroes on the field as you root, root, root for your team with wide-eyes and dreams of being out there on that field one day playing with the big boys.
Well, you’re older now, and for most of us the dreams of being a big-leaguer remained but a dream.
But the magic is still there.
You still get to the stadium early in hopes of seeing your heroes, hoping they wave back to you when you call out to them. The grass still smells the same, the ball exploding off the bat is ever as sonorous in your ears as it was when you were young. You still cheer when your pitcher comes out of the bullpen; you still do your best to catch that foul ball; you still sing loudly during the seventh inning stretch.
But, perhaps this time you’re singing with your son or with your daughter; passing your love of the game on to them, trying hard to hold on to that part of your childhood. Perhaps you teach them stats. Perhaps you teach them pitching mechanics, or what they should look for in a hitter’s swing.
Or, perhaps you’re at a game with your spouse, or simply there with friends enjoying good company and a beer.
No matter what your age or what company you bring to a game, baseball will always have a special place in your heart. You will always be giddy, even if only on the inside, to be at the ballpark; to see those players who you secretly still admire; to watch the game that you loved as a kid and will love until the day you die; to smell the smells and taste the food while cheering on your team whether they win or lose.
Yes, there is something enchanted about baseball that you will never outgrow.
In my heart of hearts, baseball will always be our National Pastime.