Opening Day

I was listening to NPR in the car this morning and learned that it’s Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. As I listened to the description of what’s going on at Safeco Field today, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. Baseball has long been a part of my life.

There was, and still is, a little league baseball field right up the road from where I grew up. When I was very young, my brother played, and my dad was an umpire. Being the tag-along little sister that I was, I spent many evenings and Saturdays hanging around that ball field and watching games. As I got older, I had friends who played both baseball and softball, so I would continue to go and watch them play. I remember watching many friends, boys and girls, hit homeruns and pitch amazing games. It was always fun to be there, eating frozen Snickers bars and yelling my support from the stands.

In high school, some of those same kids played for the school, and again, I spent many afternoons and evenings at the local ball field, cheering them on. It was the baseball team and my friends on it that prompted me to be the sports editor for our yearbook senior year. Between them and our amazing state-title-winning basketball team, there was a lot to cover. It was also the baseball team that came to my aid after an altercation in the school parking lot with a punk one afternoon, but I digress…

As a young adult, I became addicted to watching the Atlanta Braves on TV. The Rays weren’t in existence then, so the Braves were my team. There was nothing like watching John Smoltz and Chipper Jones. And I developed a hatred for the Yankees that even Derek Jeter’s butt couldn’t extinguish. Some of my best memories are of watching World Series games between those two teams in sports bars with friends. When the Rays came to Tampa Bay, I went to the whole Braves-Rays series, alternating jerseys and feeling confused. Good times!

The Mariners were fabulous when I first moved to the Seattle area, and I watched them religiously until my first child was born. It was then that I just didn’t have the time to sit in front of the TV for hours or go to the field to watch in person. I let that one lifelong pleasure slip away, and I haven’t really followed baseball since.

So to hear that today is Opening Day brought up a flood of memories I’d not thought of in a long, long time. My Great Aunt Nan, a poet, was a huge Braves fan herself well into her old age, and I think perhaps I need to take a page from her and re-ignite my interest in America’s Favorite Pastime.

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