At the time of writing, baseball season has just begun, and unlike last year, the MLF gets to play a full season. When I was a kid, baseball season was always how I knew that winter was finally over and spring was here. Spring and baseball were synonymous in my mind, and baseball is the first sport that I remember just loving to play and watch - and I still do today.
I grew up the grandson of a retired major league baseball player. My grandfather played for the Philadelphia Athletics during the Great Depression until he caught pneumonia, ending his major league career. He found regular work after that, but he did still play in what's known as a barnstorming league. He traveled around with a baseball team to a lot of small towns to play exhibition games until he married my grandma and had kids, marking the end of his baseball career for good.
Even though he stopped playing baseball long before I was born, his love of the game passed down through generations. I was one of the youngest cousins on that side of the family, and all of my older cousins and siblings played baseball. I remember attending a lot of their games, even before I started playing myself. When I was just six years old, I watched the Kansas City Royals, who were then (and still are) my favorite team, win the world series against the St. Louis Cardinals. If, up until that point, I had only casual interest in baseball, after watching that game, I was in love with it. I still have that world series on VHS tape somewhere.
Steadily, I grew into the baseball super fan I am today. In the 1980s, I had a collection of 10,000 baseball cards. My favorite player (and my favorite athlete of all time, period) was George Brett, a third baseman for the Royals. He embodied everything a ballplayer should be. You could tell he just loved the game, and he wasn't in it for the money. It wasn't just a job for him. His uniform always seemed to be dirty when he played because he played with grit. He was never the fastest or the toughest guy on the field, but he played with an intensity that was just really fun to watch.
Since I've lived in the Boston area for the past 18 years, I've of course spent countless evenings at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox Play. I mean, even if the Red Sox aren't your favorite team to begin with, what baseball fan isn't going to catch a game at Fenway any chance they get? In the coming years, after all of this craziness with the pandemic is behind us, I hope I'll get to watch the Sox play a lot more games there.
In a way, weathering the pandemic for this past year or so has felt like one long winter. But, just like the start of baseball season always alerted me that spring was coming when I was a kid, I think the MLB's full season this year is a sign that we're on our way out of the pandemic. And if that does turn out to be the case, well, then I say, "Play ball!"