It seems like a good time to be writing about baseball, for obvious reasons. Kansas City is “electric blue,” buzzing with energy and optimism for the Royals. Everyone loves the underdog, and as sports psychologists will tell you, the reasons are twofold: people appreciate effort, and they are hungry for justice. Sometimes effort and justice intersect at the same time, and as we have happily witnessed, a legendary underdog team is born.
The allure of sports and competition is a phenomenon that dates back to the days of the gladiators in ancient Rome, or the first Olympic Games in Greece more than 12 centuries ago.
There is excitement, anticipation, and sometimes agony in a mere matter of seconds in any sport. The attachments that human beings form to particular sports, or teams, or even players, are powerful and enduring. What drives our love of a sport or particular team can largely be tied to one phenomenon: memories.
As Cesare Pavese once said, we do not remember days; we remember moments. Moments from our past create memories, and these memories carry history and meaning for us.
Baseball is one of those memories that provides many of us with a journey back to days of record-breaking seasons or playing stickball with your buddies in the middle of the street.
Baseball was always central to my family when I was a child.
My first memory of baseball was sitting with my dad in Busch Stadium watching the St. Louis Cardinals battle the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series of 1982. I remember being delighted watching Ozzie Smith do backflips as the Cardinals endearing shortstop. The stadium was alive with fans who were ensconced in red and full of enthusiasm for their home team.
It was a great time to be a baseball fan, kind of like now.
An air conditioner and a tree. These were two of the bases that my brother and his neighborhood friends used to create a baseball field in our Virginia backyard when we were kids.
At six years old, my brother had developed a love for all things baseball, to not just include games in the backyard, but an indescribable adoration for the Baltimore Orioles, and more specifically, Cal Ripken. Over the years, his bedroom walls were covered with “Iron Man’s” stats, along with news articles celebrating his record-breaking streak of most consecutive games played, which reached 2,131 in 1995.
For my brother and his friends, weekend or summer afternoons were spent running the “bases” and trying to avoid knocking out anyone’s house windows with a wayward ball.
Time gives us perspective, and although I didn’t think much of their baseball at the time, I was reminded of the memory of those moments a few weeks ago when I attended my brother’s wedding. As I watched my now-adult brother, the groom, and his two childhood backyard baseball friends, his groomsmen, I was struck by how time changes but memories remain. Despite their tux-adorned presence at the altar, I can truly only remember them as eager young ballplayers enjoying the season of summer and idolizing the men who they watched on TV running around real bases. The relationships that were formed around backyard home runs more than 30 years ago remain and remind us of the power of fun, competition and teamwork.
It goes without question that a World Series championship won by the Royals would be spectacular. It would certainly be won with considerable effort and deliver long-awaited justice to a team and a town that is undeniably ready.
Whatever the outcome, I’d like to think that this week there is a father and daughter attending one of the championship games or a group of young kids deciding where the best bases would be in their backyard. Moments and memories are what sports are made of. How will you remember these glorious moments of baseball in the fall of 2014?
Until next time, be well.
Diane Bigler is a licensed clinical social worker who lives in Platte City with her family. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.