After many years of shrugging off baseball as slow and boring, I have finally become a fan of the sport.
That may sound like an unusual proclamation for a 67-year-old grandma, but the recent World Series has taught me what an exciting and excruciating game it is to play, especially for the pitcher. With our nearby team, the Washington Nationals’ long-awaited triumphant win of the World Series, I have actually sat down and watched hours of baseball.
Now, let me hasten to add that my husband would scoff, loudly, because I couldn’t make it all the way through various games — except for the final one — without falling asleep on the couch. But I am newly impressed with the tensions; the almost 100 mph whirls of the ball; the difficulty of keeping your eye on opponents attempting to steal bases while also pitching with laser focus; and being ready to field a ball yourself. I just say, Wow.
Some confessions: I grew up playing basketball, and that was the one sport we sometimes went to watch as a family, beginning when I was in elementary school. We also had a hoop and cement pad at the side of our garage. While my middle sister took top basketball billing all through high school and college and even toured several countries in Asia with a Christian exhibition team, we all loved the game. My 95-year-old mother still enjoys watching basketball on TV because she can understand the basics.
I also played softball one year in high school because my best friend went out for the team, but I never loved the sport. I was always terrified of getting hit with the ball or a bat, and thought being an outfielder was unendingly boring. And watching it on TV? Big yawn. With football I became an involved fan when our daughters began playing in marching band.
But I have never been to a professional baseball game or even a minor league one: something all of my grandsons (except the youngest) have done.
I would say my interest in baseball has grown considerably by playing ball with our grandsons. The two oldest are only six and nearly six, but they both love the game. Proud grandma believes they show promise. I have not yet actually seen them play in their T-ball league games, but boy-o-boy have I pitched, caught, hit, ran the bases, and chased foul balls and bad pitches in tiny back and front yards in three states with those tykes for hours on end.
We were happy to take care of three of our grandchildren recently so their parents could catch a play-off game in their city. When their boys found out where Mommy and Daddy were going, they understandably put up a fuss. But they were somewhat consoled when reminded that earlier in the season, they had gone to an afternoon game, and someday they would be old enough to go out in the evening.
This season I’ve learned about baseball traditions that somehow I had never really known: singing “Take me out to the ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch, and that the organist also plays “up to bat” songs that are different for each player, with the “Baby Shark” kiddo song becoming a thing for the Nationals this year.
The traditions associated with the game — including the constant adjusting of ball caps, the wrapping and unwrapping of batting gloves repeatedly after each pitch, the clearing of dirt from pitcher mounds that is “in the way,” nonverbal communication between pitcher and catcher, the spitting, the gum chewing, the meticulously followed dances in the dugout after a home run, the overall camaraderie of players — even on opposing teams — was interesting to observe.
I look forward to more that my little players will hopefully teach me in the years ahead even as they make sure I get a good workout chasing their fly and foul balls and tagging them when they practice their slides. Maybe you can teach an aging grandma to enjoy a new/old sport.
Sports memories, stories, insights, or opinions you want to share? Send to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.