Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Perfect Game

While I’m writing this, I’m also watching my beloved San Francisco Giants play the second game of the 2010 World Series in my favourite American city. Unlike any other major league professional sports, baseball is a game where a person can sit at his laptop and spew forth musings and still enjoy every minute of the game. Some sports like football are likened to war while baseball is more often compared to life; long periods of calm interrupted by short spurts of chaos. It is these bits of chaos are from which lifelong memories are made. I still get goose bumps every time I hear the call of Bobby Thompson’s home run in 1950 (aka – “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”); radio announcer, Russ Hodges screaming “The Giants win the pennant!... The Giants win the pennant!!” There are iconic photographs of great baseball moments; the one burned most in mind of my all-time sports hero, Willie Mays making the famous bucket catch against the outfield wall with his back turned to home plate. – The photo shown here hangs in the lobby of AT&T Park.
Baseball is part of North American pop culture. The classic American narrative poem “Casey At The Bat” is a perfect example of baseball reflecting life because not everything has a storybook finish; the Mighty Casey struck out. Baseball has been the back drop of so many movies including my favourite “A League of Their Own” about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. “There is no crying in baseball.” Presidents traditionally start off the season by throwing out the first pitch. Point of Pride – A largely disproportionate number of American presidents and Canadian prime ministers were southpaws.
Why am I a Giants fan? Good question. Every young sports fan chooses his/her team and it remains their team for the rest of their lives. Quite often it’s chosen geographically, either the city they live in or near or a city they have visited. Sometimes we inherit our team from our fathers. In my case it was neither. My dad and older brother were Dodger fans. My dad still is to this day. I did not even come close to visiting San Francisco until I was twenty-one. My love for the team came because my favourite all-time ballplayer is #24 Willie Mays; he always seemed to play with child like enthusiasm. As a boy I knew all the Giants; Willie, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bonds and the Alou brothers: Matti, Phillipe and Jesus. I cheered for all the orange and black over the years, from Vida Blue, to Matt Clark to today’s Giants, Tim Lincecum, Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, Buster Posey et al. And yes, I even cheered for Barry Bonds as he slugged away to the all-time home run record.  I’ve even almost forgiven Jeff Kent for non-performance in the 2002 World Series.
I finally got to see my Giants play live in 2006 at AT&T Park when my wife, Lorraine, and I took a trip to San Francisco to celebrate our landmark birthdays that year. Lorraine was not necessarily a big sports fan but she loved the tour we took of the park and attending the game that same night. Sadly, this was the last trip we took together but she did leave this world a Giants fan. :-)
As far as sports goes baseball has always been my first love. From the first day I could pick up a bat and glove, I enjoyed playing the game although I was never all that good. However, I was a star at forcing an HP (Hit by Pitched Ball). It’s simple; just turn your shoulder into an inside pitch and get the elbow up. It stings a bit but the hurt is gone by the time you reach first base.
As kids we played baseball all summer. When we weren’t playing organized Little League ball at Hastings Park we played pickup games on a bizarre makeshift diamond outside Callister Park. The field was sloped  sideways; first base was the tree across the sidewalk, second was the steel support strut holding up the hydro pole; third was the dirt patch at the bottom of the hill. (Note: sliding into second wasn’t recommended.)
I took great pride when our old Little League, Hastings, won the Canadian championship in 2009 and went on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and even greater pride in my nephew, Sean, and his team that went on to represent Canada at the Cal Ripken World Series that same summer.
I have remained somewhat active in baseball’s sibling game, softball as a player, coach and administrator for the past thirty years. I don’t play anymore I because suffer for Three Too Syndrome: Too old, too fat, too slow. Hmm, now if I can only convince those young bucks to carry weights in their pockets and wear bowling shoes on the bases...
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)
Post Note - Giants won the game 9-0, up 2-0 in the series heading to Dallas!
Post Post Note - November 1 - The Giants are the 2010 World Series Champions!!
Another Update - August 2012 - Hastings Little League All Stars are representing Canada once again in Williamsort :-)

1 comment:

  1. "Three Too Syndrome"....hahahaha!!!

    "Maybe I was born to play ball. Maybe I truly was." ~Willie Mays

    I'm thinking yes!