The question is simple. The answer isn’t. “Why do you like baseball so much?” people will ask. And while I’d like to boil the reply down to a sentence or two, I can’t. So instead, here are some of the reasons I love baseball.
- Family. Baseball has always been a family affair (even throughout high school). When I was younger, my dad was one of the coaches on my team. He’d push me to do better and play smarter. He tried to teach me patience (at the plate), focus (on the mound) and control in every aspect of the game. The memories are so vivid, I even remember one of the first pitching lessons he arranged for our team via Mr. W when I was in 3rd grade. There were practices a few times a week, games throughout the week and the tournaments mentioned above. My mom would always be there in the stands, cheering on during those hot days. Or in the rain. Or the cold. Sometimes helping to keep book. The same with my brother. When I graduated from college, we bought partial season tickets to the Royals. It was a great idea, because even though we were all in the stands now, we still talked about the game like we always had.
- Tournaments. Whether we were traveling to another city or playing in town, I loved tournament weekends. You’d play anywhere from 3-6 games over the course of 2-3 days in sweltering heat, and it’d be a blast. Sometimes we’d get our asses kicked, other times we’d kick ass. But it didn’t matter.
- Challenge. Sure, playing any sport is a challenge. But playing baseball is where I really learned to push myself harder. Throughout high school, I constantly pushed myself. With people constantly doubting me, I had to. I lifted weights and ran in the off-season–3 miles every day during the week–and eventually I went from being overweight and one of the slowest people on the team to being among the fastest. I learned so much about taking pride in a hard work ethic. It’s the reason I’m running marathons today. After my days of playing baseball were over, I needed something to work towards…something to challenge me and make me push myself.
- Summer. Is there any feeling quite like being at the ball park on a nice Summer evening?
- 3&2 french fries. I think every youth baseball complex has that one food that everyone raves about and loves. For me, it was the french fries.
- Coaching. During the summer, I coached 6 year olds for four years while in high school and JV high school ball for two years. Both were challenges (for vastly different reasons), but both were so much fun. I especially enjoyed all of the strategizing at the high school level.
Growing up, I played soccer and basketball with the other kids, but in the end, nothing ever really lived up to the enjoyment I had (and still have) from playing/watching baseball. I’m using the same glove I’ve had since I was 9 years old, refusing to retire it even though the sitching is completely torn (not to mention I have a newer glove). I play catch when I can and watch Royals games when time allows. There are still things I’d like to do (go to the CWS, watch the Royals play in a playoff game–in person or on TV, and coach again), but I have plenty of time for all of those. For now, I’m just happy watching games and trying to convince a certain someone that the game isn’t nearly as boring as it appears.