More Than Just a Game
I believe in challenges. I do not like to take the easy way out. I remain open to whatever life has in store for me. I believe in tradition. I believe in the large groups of people that come together, all because of the strong enthusiasm they share. I believe in generations of family members that gather for quality time. I believe in preparation. Learning to strategize and think ahead is a precious quality people should have. All these beliefs I feel relate to a lifelong passion of mine. It was passed down to me from my father and to him from his father. It is something that I have learned to love with a deep understanding and appreciation. I believe in baseball. I believe not only in the sport itself, but in the principles that it portrays. It is America’s pastime, a game of tradition, and something that I have spent my whole life supporting.
“Baseball. It’s just a game as simple as a ball and bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It’s a sport, a business and sometimes even a religion.” This is a quote from a sports broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell. Ernie has been a life-long fan, and symbol of the spirit of baseball. His quote explains the different meanings baseball can have. Although the sport has had so many definitions, it has become America’s tradition and America’s pastime. Baseball also has many traditions within itself. Every fan of baseball can agree when I say that watching a game on television is great, but nothing compares to actually being at the stadium itself. The warmth of the sun on your face, the seventh inning stretch, the smell of the fresh-cut grass, the thrill of catching a foul ball, the taste of a real ballpark hot dog, and being part of a screaming crowd of fans are a few things that cannot be experienced from the couch in a living room. This is what I look forward to each spring.
From the time baseball season comes to an end in October to the start of spring training in late February, baseball fans across the country are, well, bored. As February draws near, I notice myself catching baseball fever. I can feel a growing anticipation for the upcoming season. When Opening Day rolls around in April, I am filled with excitement. As happy as I am for the season to start, the season really does not start for me until my team has their first game. I am a fan of baseball, but more distinctively, I am a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.
I am originally from Peoria, Illinois. With the majority of my family in the Midwest, we are Cardinals fans. Our location also puts us in the middle of one of the biggest rivalries in baseball. Halfway between St. Louis and Chicago, Peoria is in the middle of Cardinals and Cubs opposition. I was raised to worship the Cardinals, and despise the Cubs. I am a strong supporter of the Cardinals, and I believe that this firm support is reflected in other aspects of my life. I have grown up with a great sense of pride in my team. From this I have learned to stand firm to who I am and what I believe in. I am proud of my family and friends. I am proud of the country I live in and the hometown I have grown up in. I am proud to be a Christian and of the morals I behold. Raised with such strong support for baseball, I have learned I can show strong support for anything else I believe in.
One of my favorite attributes of baseball is that it brings my family together. We all enjoy watching the Cardinals play, and even take a few trips to St. Louis in the summer. Most of us have played baseball or softball, furthering our appreciation. I believe my dad has shown his devotion to baseball better than any of us have. He has played the sport every since he was a young boy, and continued on through college. Even after he graduated, he continued to play baseball in adult recreational leagues. When we moved to Bowling Green, all that was offered was a slow-pitch softball league. After one season, he hated it. It was to slow-paced and not challenging enough. The closest adult baseball league was located in Nashville, Tennessee. Each weekend my family would load up the car and drive an hour south to watch my dad play. After a few years, my mom talked him into quitting. The weekly commute was just too much of a hassle. My dad spent one season without the love of his life, and could not be without it. He formed a league in Bowling Green. The games are held on Sunday afternoons. It gives our family a chance to come together, cheer my dad on, and watch a sport that we all love.
Baseball also gives us a chance to gather with our family back in Illinois. Because we live so far apart, my grandparents cannot come to every one of our games. They try to make it to at least one or two each year. I started playing softball when I was seven years old. My grandpa would help boost my confidence by “putting hits into my bat”. He would talk to my bat, and with his magic spell, enable it to hit a softball. Every hit I had, I would attribute to my grandpa’s magical gift. Whenever my grandpa came in town, I made sure that he put some extra hits in my bat. This was to ensure I would not run out of power before the end of the season. Whenever I was in a bit of a slump, I thought it was because I was out of hits. I would call my grandpa and let him know how desperate I was. I later learned that practice would give me the ability to hit well.
The challenge the sport brings gives me another aspect to build my life around. One of the challenges within baseball is to match action with strategizing. My dad has always described baseball as “chess with action”. Players need to be quick to think, and quick to act. Players have to learn to think ahead. They need to know what to do when the ball is hit. They need to know how and where to hit the ball. They need to know where the ball can go as soon as it is in play. When at bat or on base, players need to know what to do as soon as the ball is thrown. Fielders need to constantly think ahead and make predictions. A lot of speed, endurance, and coordination come in to play, creating the challenge.
I believe in a strong work ethic. I do not like to choose to take the easy way out, and I do not like to give up. The strategy building I have learned from baseball has taught me how to think ahead. It goes hand in hand with being prepared for school or a job. I stand ready and open to challenges. I believe nothing should be handed to you. This makes achieving a goal much more deserving and satisfying. I believe in tradition. I believe it is the tradition of baseball that has brought my family together, and has shaped who I am today. This belief I have had as a child grew into the passion I have now. I believe in baseball, and I believe it is more than just a game.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.