Friday, October 25, 2013

It Breaks Your Heart, this Game of Baseball


Doug Glanville the marvelous occasional baseball commentator for the Times writes;

"In our young minds, baseball has a permanence. We embrace it as a near certainty, one that rises in spring and sets in the fall as our lives revolve around it. Yet each larger-than-life player from our baseball childhood who walks out the clubhouse door for the last time forces us kicking and screaming into an uncomfortable maturity. We wonder where our childhood has gone. We are shocked into understanding that our favorite players are aging, and that we must be aging, too".

Carl Yastremski, who threw the ball out Wednesday Night to inaugurate this year's World Series, sports a full head of snow white hair. The greatest living Red Sox is 74 years old. He's had bypass surgery. He's lost a son not much younger than me.

It can't be. The 12 year old (1967) can still see him paroling left field at Fenway like a cop on his beat, daring baserunners to try and advance.  The 21 year old college kid raises his arms in triumph as Yaz singlehandedly demolishes Oakland in the playoffs ('75). Alone on South Racine in front of an old black and white TV, my 24 year old medical student self still fights back tears as Captain Carl pops out to Nettles (1978), in what, please G-d, will always remain my most heartbreaking baseball memory.

But Glanville, who played, and loved this game like those before and those to follow, elegantly reminds us that yes, it must be so.

"But when the final game is played, when the winners celebrate and the ticker tape falls, again there is silence. And in the quiet corners of baseball’s historic order, some players are taking off their uniforms for the last time. And inevitably, some of those now-former players defined post-season baseball, and made us love the game because of how they stood in the batter’s box, or the music that played each time they danced to the mound."


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