Saturday, March 28, 2020

Make Baseball Great Again!


          It's our National Pastime.
          It has survived for many years, through the best of times, through the worst of times.
          It has survived wars, drought, depression, recession, technology, innovation, prosperity, and a mix of all of the above.
          It has survived scandals and scoundrels, enjoyed heroes and legends, and seen its terminology become a part of our everyday conversations. (Out of left field, having two strikes against you, hitting a home name a few)
          And it will survive the current situation.

          At one point in our history, the fabric of this country had baseball woven into it. Towns featured pro, semi-pro and amateur teams that they were fiercely proud of.
          And as you see photos and watch footage of baseball games, ladies wore dresses, and gentlemen wore shirts and ties, and a fedora seemed to be expected as well. Cigar smoke and popcorn filled the air, along with cracks of the bats and roars of the crowds. Games during the day
         It was an intimate game back then, smaller parks, giving way to behemoth stadiums. Bandbox fields with odd dimensions, leading to altered batting stances to take advantage. Teams would sculpt their lineups based on playing half of their games in their home park. The "House that Ruth Built" featured a shorth right field porch for the Babe to take advantage of. The left-field wall at Forbes Field was dubbed "Greenberg's Garden", and then renamed Kiner's Corner. Even to the lackadaisical groundskeeping which kept the infield grass a little higher around the plate for teams with a strong bunt/speed game.
          Die-hard fandom was rampant. Major league players often lived in the same neighborhoods as their stadiums, and got to know the local grocer, butcher and newspaper boy. Willie Mays would play stick-ball with the youngsters in upper Manhattan. Gil Hodges owned a bowling alley in Brooklyn.

          Times have changed, and tides have turned. The cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadiums of the seventies and eighties, have gone. Most replaced with single purpose stadiums, each with the unique features that were prevalent in the early century parks.
         The monuments in the outfield of Yankee Stadium are still there, just not in play any longer. The slight uphill climb near the wall in Crossley Field was replicated in Houston on Tal's hill (which has been removed now. To the sound of the ball hitting the tin wall at Ebbett's Field, to the players taking the long post-game walk to the clubhouses in the Polo Grounds, which were located 480 feet away in dead center-field.
          Now, we can see a train atop the left-field wall in Houston, A bridge, resembling the Hell Gate bridge, celebrates the many bridges that connect the five boroughs. It also pays homage to the link from the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants to the modern day Mets. There is a swimming pool in right-field in Arizona.

         One of the many great things about baseball is the rich, colorful history of the games, and the characters that made it so much fun. Fun to play, fun to watch, fun to study, and fun to learn.

          I hope to use these pages to remind us all about those characters. About those games. the legends, myths, wrongs and rights.


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