In the US, baseball season is in full swing. Tee Ball and Little Leagues, high school, college, rec leagues, minor and major leagues. Of all the team sports, this one is the most quintessentially “American,” with deep historical ties to the national culture (the date and details of the game’s origins are highly disputed, so we won’t go into that). Many films have been made where baseball plays a central role in the development of the plot. Among my favorites are The Natural and Field of Dreams. CLICK HERE to see a list of them. There are several that I had never heard of.
Baseball has been a rich part of our family traditions. My children’s dad, his brother, and their cousins grew up going to major league games with their grandpa. When his cousin’s twins arrived unexpectedly early, some of the relatives were at a game. There were no cell phones back then, and her husband tried (in vain) to contact the ballpark and have an announcement placed on the big screen for them.
One of our first dates was to an Oakland A’s game. I was clueless and thought the game would go for seven innings. Not only did it last nine, but it went into overtime for a total of fourteen innings! It was a night game in June, and being a Midwest girl, new to northern California, I didn’t dress properly. It was a summer evening. Shorts and a T-shirt would be fine, right? The cold, stiff wind off San Francisco Bay turned me into a block of ice.
As newlyweds, we lived in Southern California and spent many nights at Chavez Ravine cheering on the LA Dodgers and munching on Dodger dogs. When we couldn’t go, we listened/watched every game on radio/TV. At the conclusion of each season, we counted down the days in three phases: 1) pitchers and catchers report; 2) spring training; 3) Opening Day.
All three of our sons came home from the hospital in a little Dodger uniform. We dragged our firstborn to “Picture Day” at Dodger Stadium when he was three weeks old and took video and pictures of Tommy LaSorda, the longtime team manager, holding him.
The boys grew up playing baseball. My oldest son and his wife had their first date at a KC Royals game. She was raised near Pittsburgh and is a devoted Pirates fan and he a St. Louis Cardinals fan, where he grew up. Although they were married in a church (not on a field, which some fans do), their wedding was baseball themed. They set a goal to visit every major league ballpark in the US and got quite a few in before they had children. Now they live in Houston and my grandkids have been attending Astros games since they were tiny. They’re older now and their parents are making plans to revive that dream and travel with the family to other parks.
My daughter and her husband just had their first baby. My son-in-law, a California native, loves the Angels, but they live in the Midwest, so he watches every game on TV. On opening day, he dressed his baby son in a baseball onesie and had him ready when the game came on. “First game with my little buddy,” he said proudly. It brought a tear to Nana’s eye. For his first Father’s Day next month, most of the family is gathering in Kansas City for a Royals-Angels game. I can’t wait to make another great baseball memory.
Does your family enjoy other team sports? Football, basketball, soccer? Do you have deep traditions and memories involving attending games? I would love to hear about that in the comments.
To celebrate baseball season, I’ve written a short romance called Ninth Inning Wish, about how God answers prayer. CLICK HERE to sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll send it to you! (My new website is under construction, so please excuse the dust!)