A bit of a detour here today, and I apologize to the non-Americans reading. It’s about baseball. I’m of a mixed mind about baseball. I grew up as a fanatical sports fan, mostly baseball and basketball, south of Boston, early-to-mid-1960s. That meant that the Red Sox lost every year, and the Celtics won every year. Made things comfortable, you knew what to expect. 1967 the Red Sox went to the World Series, and everyone’s expectations changed forever – (but they lost, in 7 games). 1969 Russell retired, and the Celtics changed for a while too.
I drifted in and out of the sports-fan sphere for many years, mostly out. Too busy being a 1970s teenager/art student. Then I got swept up in the Larry Bird era for the Celtics, and I watched that endlessly. I also jumped on the wagon when the Red Sox lost to the Mets in 1986.
Then off again. I got too involved, I used to yell at the television, like any red-blooded lunatic American sports fan. Finally I dumped it all, figuring why spend all that time, energy and emotion watching millionaires play games? Being a spectator is fine now & then, but to dedicate so much time to it, well…there’s only so many hours in a day and I had stuff to do.
Then – 2004. I had to watch the Red Sox in the World Series that year. I just kept thinking – “what if they win, and I lived through it & didn’t see it?” So I called up the cable TV people and had them hook me up for a week or so. They were astounded when I called the day after the Series was over to tell them to disconnect me. They said “But you’re all paid for the month…” I said “pull the plug.”
I never cared about baseball again. A few years later, the Red Sox won a 2nd world series, and I didn’t read a thing about it, nor did I see any of it. I liked it better when they’d almost win, then find another astonishing way to lose. After Larry Bird retired, I never watched a basketball game again. Now I have a philosophical opposition to watching sports, all that sitting and watching other people live/work/play – seems to me my time would be better spent doing something myself.
So why am I writing on this woodworking blog about baseball and sports? Because this spring and summer, I have been spending a lot of time answering questions from my kids, mostly Daniel, about baseball. Lots of questions. And it is bringing up many issues in my head. My father was a huge baseball fan, one of my prized possessions is his baseball glove from when he was a kid in Boston, c. 1920s/30s.
For many Americans, baseball has a magical, timeless appeal and it’s easy to get absorbed in it with a kid. There’s so many stories and personalities tied to baseball, and the drama, pathos and even humor. Even our language is filled with baseball phrases. Sunday we’re headed to Pawtucket Rhode Island to see the PawSox play. Unless it rains, in which case, we’ll get a “raincheck” and we’ll teach the kids what that phrase means.
We don’t have television in the house, and I don’t let the kids read the newspapers. I used to absorb the sports pages, and magazines about sports. Now with drug and sex scandals, murder investigations and other such stuff leaking all over the sports pages, I figure no 7-yr old needs that.
So they’ve been reading some library books about baseball, and one player they learned about was Jackie Robinson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Robinson Before my time for sure, but I knew who he was from my father.
Here’s a drawing Rose did of Robinson for her brother
And of course, Babe Ruth, which brings you into the record books. Daniel had lots of questions about Ruth’s home run records, then we got to Henry Aaron (more heroism in the face of racism) and eventually to modern-day cheating dopers.
Here’s Daniel’s drawing of the Bambino pitching for the Red Sox, thus pre-1919.
I like it best when we go out and hit a few, and play catch. My arm is sore from hewing and planing for the last 35 years, but I can manage enough…for now. When he gets bigger, and throws & hits harder – we’ll see.
But there’s lots of baseball lore stored away in my grey matter, and it’s being stirred a bit. There is this great romantic pull, of being a link between Moe’s early-20th century baseball enthusiasm and now Daniel’s early 21st-century bout with the game. Of course, I’m an old fart, so to me, it’s not like it used to be…but to Daniel, it’s thrilling. He & I watched a local collegiate league game the other day, and all the fly balls were hit right at people. I told him the trick is like what Wee Willie Keeler said – “Hit ‘em where they ain’t”
The glove is not as old as I thought. It is marked on the edge of the thumb “licensed under pat. no. 2231204”. So i looked that up, and here is the story http://www.google.com/patents/US2231204?printsec=description#v=onepage&q&f=false
Filed 1939, issued in 1941. Let’s see, my father was 17 or 18 years old by then. Next, I have to look through the photos to see if I have him wth the glove on…