It's never too late for baseball
I love baseball. I wish I had loved it earlier.
Actually, I didn’t know I loved it until I moved to Philadelphia back in the seventies. Having grown up in the Cleveland area there was never much emphasis on baseball during the sixties.
But in Philadelphia they piped audio from games over loudspeakers downtown. Strangers on the street would query, “Have you heard the score?” The stadium would be filled daily with verbal reactions to each and every pitch.
It was the time of Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Greg Maddux and ultimately, Pete Rose. I was hooked.
My husband Joe likes to tell people that I started to date him because he had season tickets to Phillies games. That’s really only partially true. Actually, it didn’t hurt.
Joe and I moved back to Ohio the very year that the Phils won the World Series and instead of sitting in the stands, we were watching on TV as Tug McGraw hurled himself into the air after tossing that final strike and winning the series.
Then, many years passed. Four years ago we had a chance to buy into a group that held season tickets to the Indians. Up to that point we had had season passes to Cedar Point, but had decided to give those up since in our last visit to the park all we did was talk about how this ride wrenched our backs and that ride hurt our necks. Age had taken its toll and baseball seemed safer.
I became immediately transfixed with the sport, the team, the Jake (um Progressive field), the SHOW!
Now, I scour the paper for news of the team. I devour the box scores. (Last year I checked daily to make sure there were some teams worse than the Tribe. This year has been happier, even if we are teetering a bit right now.) Bottom line: I AM a fan.
So, why do I wish this love of the game had come to me earlier? It’s because of Auntie.
lla Meredith was my mom’s aunt by marriage. Back in the forties her husband left her, which was unheard of during that decade. She came to stay with us for the weekend and ended up staying 10 years.
She was mad at mom and dad for getting pregnant with me. They already had two children, so what did they need another for? And then, after I was born, she was mad that I was a girl. They could have at least had a boy.
It took six weeks for her to even look at me, but once she did, I became HERS. Auntie made me a proficient card shuffler at age three. She braided my long hair daily with great care and always made me my favorite cinnamon toast. We were constant companions.
There came a time when she had to move out because my grandmother needed too much care to live alone anymore. Auntie was settled into a room in a house down the street and I visited her every Sunday. We played canasta until her sister, Smitty, moved in with her, then we graduated to three handed pinochle.
Auntie loved the Tribe fueled by the memory from the forties and of the 1954 team, but I wanted nothing to do with it. I sit now in our fabulous seats right above home plate and think about Auntie.
I used to make her choose. If the Tribe was on Sunday afternoon, I’d tell her she could have the TV or a card game, but not both. Invariably she chose me. See, if only I’d loved baseball earlier, we could have cheered the Tribe on together.
Since there are no do-overs in life, I’ll have to content myself in embracing that part of Auntie that will always live within me as Hafner smacks a good one or Asdrubal makes a ridiculously incredible play. If only I’d come to love it earlier.
The Tribe’s slogan this year is “What IF?” What if Auntie and I could have together hollered “Go Tribe!”