This game brings people together. Not just the different nationalities that have taken it to heart, but to different American cultures. From skinny-necked, university eggheads to truck-driving, beer-swilling rednecks, there is room in baseball fandom for everyone.
Some of the best sportswriting has come from the typewriters of grizzled old veterans of the game, from their places in the wooden stands in the minor leagues to the shining, new, taxpayer-supported palaces of the major leagues.
“The Boys of Summer” by famed baseball writer, Roger Kahn, is a perfect evocation of an entire season with the Brooklyn Dodgers and more.
A shining moment of IFO’s own past was a beautiful summer day in Oregon in the mid-1970s, when the hippies from the commune up the road from where we lived at the time were invited to a pickup game with local loggers and millworkers.
There had been glares exchanged over the wet, dreary winter. The town boys weren’t too fond of those “dope-smoking, dirty long-hairs.” The hippies were a bit nervous. One logger, it was said, had threatened to cut their hair with his chain saw.
But once the game got started, it was all baseball. After a particularly spectacular, inning ending catch of a high fly ball by the very tall, very high, hippy first-baseman, we heard him saying, happily, as he ran in from the field, “I love baseball!”
Later, a guy at the commune told us that town fellows often came up to visit and smoke. We expressed our surprise. “Blue-collar hippies,” he explained.
Baseball teaches humility – not the just players, that’s to be expected; but to the fans. At age 20, we were in the stands at CalBerkeley, when a couple of visiting South American students came up and asked us, “Do you know zees game?”
“Yes,” we said, confidently. “Please, teach me,” one of them implored.
We close the curtain on this embarrassing scene, just requesting that you try to explain it to an invisible someone, presumed to be a tabula rasa vis a vis baseball. See?
Investment and life lesson: if you can’t explain it to someone else, you don’t really understand it.