Opening Day Essay
“Swing batter swing,” the young boy yelled. “I love to say that at a baseball game.” The young boy continued to enjoy the game that we know as America’s Favorite Pastime.
Enriched in the mind of a young boy, is his favorite player making a diving catch or taking a full swing for a homerun. It starts at a young age, and continues throughout live. This is baseball and one of the reasons why I love the game.
My love for the game began when I was young and had the dream of being a Major League baseball player. I loved the nostalgia of the game and what it stands for. Forever in my mind is the bedroom I created when I lived at my parent’s home — I had pictures, stories, autographed baseballs, bats and hats decorated around. I lived the game, dreamed the game, and treasured the game.
“Watching Ferris Bueller?” I asked the little boy, in the scene when they all cut school for the day and attended a Chicago Cub’s game. He began to laugh. Of all places, we were at a Long Island Ducks game (members of the Atlantic Professional Baseball League) in the heartland of Long Island, known as Citibank Park.
At a time when the politics of the game went on the backburner and the overriding enthusiasm and support of Long Island to support the Ducks was real, the dream became a reality.
It is for the hot dogs, peanuts and beer and the chance to see up and coming stars and some stars there were in the Major Leagues, but attempting to make a comeback — Rickey Henderson, Mark Whiten, Carlos Baerga — to name a few. I also mention in this book a meeting with Jose Rijo of the Reds, he’s one of many good ballplayers that I have had the chance to meet and talk with. They are the game, they make the game.
Besides also going to Ducks’ games, I have been on baseball road trips to live the reality. I went to see the Glens Falls Tigers (AA-ball) when John Smoltz, former member of the Atlanta Braves and part of one of the best rotations going and one of the most feared teams of the ’90′s — besides the New York Yankees – carving his craft to become one of the best pitchers in Major League baseball. I traveled to the Toronto Skydome to see the Toronto Blue Jays play against the Yankees, Fenway Park, Old Shea Stadium, and many minor league ballfields.
When I was asked to write a poem for the book Baseball Stories for the Soul, I wanted to write something that America would remember the pastime by.
So, I wrote “America’s Pastime” and it went like this:
Yesterday there was Willie, Mickey and the Duke.
Today there is the Rocket, Junior and Big Mac.
Tomorrow there is Bip, John and Steve.
It is not music, but a game that makes its own music.
From the singing of the anthem…To the crack of the bat.
To the Duke hitting a homerun in Ebbets, Big Mac taking his swing at 70…80…Junior going downtown.
Each with something in mind — to win.
America’s game — Baseball.
The National Pastime.
This is why I love baseball, America’s Pastime.