Champions of the Field
Every year the baseball season starts with a homerun from someone. It doesn’t always come in the first at bat, nor is it always the first hit. But in some stadium across the United States (and a few times in Puerto Rico or Japan) there is that inevitable moment when someone hits the first homerun of the new season.
That’s the thing in sports, there is always a new season. The New York Yankees won the World Series last year, and while that was a lot of fun when it happened and there were parades and lots of media attention and a World Series’ ring to show for it, a new season came. A new season always comes. Players have to lace up their cleats and pick up their bats and run out on the diamond all over again. It’s a fact of life; champions can never rest comfortably. There are always new seasons and new opponents.
I know something about this. This past year was my first full year playing softball. I have unfortunately passed from the age of playing baseball to the age of playing softball. I suppose they think us elder folk will have more fun with a ball that moves a lot slower and is sure hard to miss at the plate. I still love to get out on that diamond and whip the ball around and swing away though, so if it means moving from a baseball to a softball, I will do it.
Anyway, in my first full year we won the championship in our league. It was a heady moment. There wasn’t any champagne or World Series rings, but we were jumping around like little boys just the same. We passed the trophy from one to another with glee, posing for the first time all season on the mound with grins as big as jack-o-lanterns.
Our season as champions came to an end this spring, as we laced up our cleats and headed out to the practice fields to begin preparing to defend our title. There are some new faces and a few familiar ones that have disappeared, but we are still united with the same purpose. We love the game of baseball (er…softball) and want to be champions once more.
Baseball has been immortalized in movies like Field of Dreams and For the Love of the Game and I have to heartily agree with the sentiment. Baseball will always be more than a game for me. Walt Whitman once said “I see great things in baseball. It's our game - the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.”
Indeed, baseball is a blessing, one I am glad I have been the given the grace to play these past years.
© Seth Crossman