This I Believe

Entered on April 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, legacy, sports

Baseball: My Family’s Tradition

Baseball is not only America’s pastime, but also a way for families to bond. I grew up in a family full of baseball lovers. It’s a time when we come together to watch, cheer, and have rivalries. Yankee pinstripes run deep in our house. One rule we have is never bring home a Boston fan. Our love for the Yankees derives from my grandfather. As we’ve gotten older baseball has come to mean more to us than just a game. It is a tradition, a way of life, and a love we will always possess.

I can remember back to the 2003 American League Championship, Yankees versus the Red Sox. It was thought to be one of the greatest pitching match-ups, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez respectively. Game seven and the Sox had shut Clemens down early with a four run lead. You could feel the tension in the air. We were all nervous – the Sox were going to win the division – this couldn’t be happening. Top of the fourth Clemens was pulled, in came Mike Mussina, who shut out Boston. Yanks started to come back in the seventh with a home run from Jason Giambi. Up came Boston’s David Ortiz with a solo homerun. Boston thought they clenched it. The eighth produced a rally so impressive that it tied the game. Top of the eleventh Yankees Aaron Boone came to bat. I was sitting on the floor, my cousins, Jason and Mike, sat on the couch, my grandfather in his chair, and everyone was holding their breath. Boone stepped into the batter’s box, took a couple of practice swings anticipating the pitch. It was a knuckleball, he swung, and CRACK a home run shot sent the Yanks to the World Series. Our house exploded into a thunderous roar. Everyone gave high five’s, stomping and whooping it up so loud that our neighbor came over to check on us. It was awesome!

Baseball is now our eternal link to our grandfather. With his health declining he never made any trips to Yankee Stadium with us. So we decided if he couldn’t go then the Yankees would come to him. Sitting in the bleacher section one year we peeled pieces off the wall, took pictures from all angles, gathered rocks from outside, and bought him a replica of the stadium. Our grandfather recently passed leaving a legacy of Yankee fans to carry on the tradition. We buried him with our Yankee jerseys and hats, pieces of the wall, and the replica of the stadium.

This is our first opening day without him; however we know he will be with us cheering on the Yanks. Trips to New York have been planned, tickets purchased, and schedules posted. We’re ready to become engulfed in America’s pastime, our pastime. We’ll call each other when huge plays are made, when someone hits a grand slam, or a pitcher goes for a no-hitter. We’ll think of our grandfather and the memories he created.

I believe baseball is not only a sport or a way of life, but the glue that will bond one generation to another. It is forever constant. You don’t need to know statistics or describe what happened in the World Series. You just have to have a love of the sport, the spirit it creates, and a desire to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Each of us will carry him in our hearts when we visit the stadium always remembering his love of the Yankees, his family, and baseball.