Opening Day of baseball.
The neighborhood is alive with summer sounds. It’s lunchtime. I’m sipping my lunch from a tin can.
A few streets over, I hear kids’ voices. Their far-off laughter is infectious. I know they’re playing catch because I hear the rhythmic slaps of leather. Like a metronome.
And I’m thinking about the innumerable evenings my father and I played catch. Catch was our thing. We played whenever the mood hit.
Daddy never went anywhere without our ball gloves in the backseat. We played catch in all kinds of places. In public parks. In driveways. Backyards. In the church parking lot, during the sermon.
Some men’s fathers were Methodists or Presbyterians. My father was a National League man.
Which is why I am on the front porch, listening to dad’s old Zenith console radio. Tweed speaker. Particle-wood cabinet. The game sounds like it’s coming out of a walkie talkie, courtesy of 690 AM. Joe Simpson is in good voice today.
As each year goes by, baseball gets harder to love. The salaries get higher. The
game gets more commercial. I keep getting older; the players stay the same age.
The sport of my youth no longer resembles itself. When I was a kid, professional baseball was played by guys who looked like beer-swilling lumberjacks and retired war veterans.
Bucky Dent was the man. Dale Murphy was a diety. You had guys like George Brett, with cheeks full of Red Man, rushing the mound after an inside pitch to beat the pitcher’s everlasting aspirations.
We had Ripken. Nolan. Sid Bream. And it wasn’t a game unless Bobby Cox made a serious attempt to decapitate an umpire.
Baseball has new rules now. The worst corruption to the game is the clock. My father would roll in his grave.
During my youth, there was no game clock in baseball. In fact, baseball was the only thing in life without a clock.…