“Take Me Out To The Ballgame…”

“Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a Communist.”

– Alvin Dark

“To be an American and unable to play baseball is comparable to being a Polynesian and unable to swim.”

– John Cheever

For me, Baseball will always be the National Pastime.  Nothing wrong with the other major sports—I love football, hockey, boxing, and even an occasional dose of the NBA. But for day-to-day involvement in a 6-month long soap opera, take me out to the ballgame.

Baseball is quintessentially American.  It is an individual game played by teams rather than a team game played by individuals.  It is a leisurely game, defined by tradition.  It eschews collectivism and exemplifies the antique values of personal responsibility and accountability.  It is democratic.  A skilled smaller player can be just as valuable to his club as a larger man.  It values steadfastness and consistency.  It rewards patience. It is transparent—each success or failure is duly recorded for posterity in the daily boxscore.  Games end because of human fallibility and not the impersonal arbitration of the clock.  It is played in venues that exude personality, and its terminology, unlike that of the second most popular sport, can be easily applied to the lexicon of love:

Baseball:  Can’t Get To First Base

Football:  No Gain

Baseball:  Struck Out

Football:  Failed To Get The First Down

Baseball:  Scored

Football:  Through the uprights

Baseball is the sport of amore.  In baseball you make contact, in football you complete a pass; baseball teams share innings, football teams take possession; baseball fans stretch, football fans tailgate; in baseball you play the field, in football you play man-to-man; baseball has the “Babe”; football has the “Big Tuna”.   Metaphorically speaking, baseball is dinner by candlelight; football is a quickie behind the Burger King.

The first President to toss out the ball on Opening Day was William H. Taft in 1910.  The record for Opening Day throws is eight, held jointly by Franklin D. Roosevelt (one of which plunked a camera man) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (who would have placed second with lefty Harry Truman had not a sudden squall rained out Ike’s golf date), and the retired Bush dynasty leads all Presidential father-son duos with 9 Opening Day pegs (on a technicality—the first pitch in 2001 was actually hurled by Bud Selig.  George “W” threw the second).

About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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