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Baseball is so much more than just a game

September 09, 1999

I'm probably the only person in America who says that baseball is too fast.

I know. Most people think it's slow.

The players stand and wait to pitch, they wait to catch, they wait to hit.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Sometimes it's inning after scoreless inning. Walk after walk, strike after strike.

When they do hit, I miss it.

I rarely see where the ball has gone.

I haven't quite grasped the scoreboard, either. Sooooo many numbers!

I don't care. I don't mind if I'm a couple of beats behind. I don't mind that there's no instant replay at Municipal Stadium. It's relaxing, and I like it.

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My connection with baseball has been marginal ... touch and go.

My handsome, 6-foot-2 uncle Jimmy Wilson gave me his mitt - a huge, dark brown thing that easily held both of my little-girl hands. Before "the War," he played in some kind of local baseball league in Long Branch, N.J. Years later, before Alzheimer's took his wonderful mind, he remembered players and plays and the dates of games. I watched Yankees games on television with him or with my dad, who would holler "Geeeez!" - or worse - in frustration at a blown play.

I played a gentler version of the game, softball, in my elementary and middle school girls' physical education classes.

It was the one sport in which I wasn't picked nearly last for the team. Believe it or not, I could pitch. It was slow, similar to bowling, but a little bit higher. We wore white cotton gymsuits - sort of short shirtwaist dresses with bloomers. My mom ironed mine.

At home, our attire was more casual, as were our after-supper games. It was fun to play at the Natales' - they had six kids and their own backstop. On some nights, if their next-door neighbors' grandmother was home, we'd move the game to my back yard down the street. We had to: Granny would call the cops if the ball so much as rolled on their grass.

I remember one game when a couple of the dads and the two grown sons of the man across the street played against us kids. We cried "Foul" when one of the so-called adults picked up - I mean literally picked up - our first baseman and ran the bases with him.

Girls weren't allowed to play Little League in the ancient history of my childhood. Not that I would have made the team. But I did enjoy riding my chunky blue-and-white bike down the street to the schoolyard to watch my beloved cousin "Jimmy-Boy" play. He was his team's catcher. I was in awe of all his equipment.

I've been away from baseball for a long time, but the Suns are bringing me back. I'll confess to being "Katie-Come-Lately" to the team. Is it because we're in danger of losing them that I want them to stay?

Recently, I caught myself doing a little victory dance in front of the radio as the Suns nailed a nice double play when I was finishing supper dishes. Listening again a week and a half ago, I punched my friend, Tim, when one of the Bay City Bombers tagged out one of my Suns. Sorry. I knew it wasn't his fault.

I can't make it to every home game. There's always a never-ending list of things to do - dinner, dishes, laundry, paying bills, basement clutter.

But I have learned recently, on a few beautiful summer evenings, that a hot dog and nachos are OK for dinner once in a while.

Popcorn for dessert? I can deal with it.

It's fun to see little kids run for foul balls. It's neat to feel like a part of a community and a tradition. I am happy that I have seen some of these hard-working and handsome young players and that I can follow their careers and hope that their big league dreams will come true.

Sometimes you just have to get out to "the old ball game."




Kate Coleman is a Staff Writer for Lifestyle.

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