Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mama's Love of Baseball ~ Column from Sunday's Paper

I was flipping through our stack of movies today looking for something to watch tonight during dinner. A movie that had been hidden from view behind a stack fell off the shelf and hit the top of my foot. 

When I picked it up, I saw that it was “For the Love of the Game.” The movie stars Kevin Costner and is one of my top five favorite movies of all time. It's a movie about baseball, and it made me think of my mom because she loved baseball too. 

We both fell in love with the game when I played Little League. There's something about a baseball diamond in spring. It's as flat as a mirror, with chalk lines that make the infield look like a dusty piece of pie.

Even now when I close my eyes, I can conjure up the scent of my old leather glove and hear the bark of a bat against a fastball. Closely knit in my memory is the aroma of popcorn and parched peanuts wafting from the concession stand. I can feel the warm summer sun on my face and hear the scratching click of my cleats on concrete. 

Our uniforms were made of creme-colored flannel and had red ribbon-looking stripes about as wide as my little finger down the front and around the sleeves. Our socks were red with white stripes.

Every baseball field we ever played on was scratched out of red clay. And since baseball players spend a lot of time diving and sliding on the ground, we all looked at the end of each game as if we'd been mining iron ore.

But every time I set foot on the diamond, my uniform was as clean as new. It did take a while to convince my mom that a baseball uniform didn't really have to be starched. 

Mama never missed a home game, and she was very vocal in her support. One time when I was batting, a pitcher for the opposing team threw a curveball that whacked me on the ear. 

When Mama heard the whack of that ball on my helmet, she came off the bleachers and was ready to whip the opposing coach, the kid, the kid's parents and the folks at Rawlings who'd made the baseball. Fortunately I have a hard head, and I was wearing a batter's helmet. 

If our coach hadn't realized that I was OK and headed mama off at home plate, it could have gotten nasty out there on the diamond. 

A few years ago while visiting, I reminded her of that story and we both had a good laugh.

During the later years of her life, she looked forward to spring and baseball season. The Atlanta Braves gave her some of her happiest moments. She especially liked it when they hammered the Mets or the Red Sox. 

When they won, she was happy, and when they lost she was mad as a hornet. If I happened to miss the game and asked her for the score, “Aw, I don't want to talk about it.”

Back when I worked for a living, my company had a skybox at Turner Field. I had the opportunity to see them play a number of times. On one trip, I bought her a Braves baseball hat. 

Now that she's gone, the one regret that I have is that I never took her to Atlanta to see the Braves.

7 comments:

  1. My grandmother was a real Dodgers fan. She either listened to the games on the radio or watched them on TV, and she just loved the announcer, Vin Sculley. She's been gone a year now, but I always think of her when the games are on. My husband and I took her to a Dodgers game once and by the time the game was over, everyone sitting in the area around us was in love with her infectious personality. I really miss her.

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  2. No idea about baseball (but I did play rounders at school! LOL!) or the whole Little League concept - beloved of a lot of American films! LOL! but these memories of your lovely mum conjures up some very precious times of your both and your shared love of the game! take care
    x

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  3. My husband is a big fan of baseball as was his mother. I spent many an afternoon visit bored rigid listening to them dissect a game.

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  4. How much different would the game be if all the uniforms were starched?

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  5. There is a little treat for you over on my blog.

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  6. I love the game, too. My great grandfather played on a professional team that toured Mexico at the very beginning of the 1900's and passed down some great stories about it.

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  7. Isn't it amazing how much we miss the people who loved us.
    So sad.
    I hope one day we can meet them again I pray for heaven and a new world to live in once we are done with this one.

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