Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Meaning of Baseball, In My Own Words

by: Andrew Jaggers
Staff writer/contributor

Being from Central Indiana, the “heart of basketball country”, the joke is that you are born with two things: a basketball and a jump shot. Most kids my age were dreaming of last second shots as the clock ran down, playing like Larry Bird, playing at Indiana for the legendary Bob Knight, or winning state championships.

But in our family we were a little different. See we played baseball in the backyard and were put to bed with stories of Mantle, Maris, and the Big Red Machine. I had an older brother, and he played baseball, so that meant I wanted to play baseball only better.

My earliest memories surround baseball. I literally grew up at the Little League Fields. I remember throwing the ball up to myself behind the bleachers as my mom watched my brother’s All-Star team, which my dad was the coach. I remember listening to Marty on 700 WLW in the car and the static that used to drive my mom crazy. I remember the family going to downtown Indianapolis to watch the Indians play at beautiful Bush Stadium, players like Razor Shines, Aaron Boone, Pokey Reese, and tons of others.

I remember standing by the dugout before the game hoping for the chance to talk to one of my heroes. Once we even got to meet Mickey Mantle at a pre-game promotion. I remember growing up and being taught to field it like Brooks Robinson and hustle like Rose. I remember standing in the backyard with my pitch back and dreaming of pitching in the World Series for my team the Cincinnati Reds. I remember countless times driving to Cincinnati in the summer and finding our seats, way up in the upper ring at Cinergy.

I remember coming home from school on a Friday and my dad saying “get in the car, we are going to Chicago.” We made the trip for one reason, to watch Cal Ripken play shortstop.

Our year was literally only two seasons, the season and the off-season. Our springs and summers were spent every weekend at the fields, playing, practicing, and dreaming of playing in the Bigs. My memories are mostly of my dad, a school teacher during the year, and my baseball coach during the season. We were never told that we had to play, we always wanted to play. It was what we did.

My brother and I went on to play baseball in college and that’s were it ended for us, but the dream is/was/always will be there. Every time we turn on the TV or find our seats at a game, we are reminded of the amazing childhood and life lessons taught to us by our dad as we played the most amazing game in the world, baseball. Now we have kids of our own and the dream begins again as we get to impart the knowledge that was bestowed upon us by our father, the perfect coach! With baseball you remember the strikeouts and losses, but for me I remember the lessons and joys much more.

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