From My WindowIssue Date: October 11, 2018
Fall Baseball and Impulse
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
My husband is a life-long baseball fan. I did not pay much attention to baseball when I was young, but once I was older I found I loved playing in fast pitch and slow pitch women's and co-ed leagues, only stopping when I was in my mid-50's. But the sound of the Brewers on the radio became like a special song for the two of us when we started dating, and his love of baseball rubbed off on me quickly.
When we were young, footloose and free (in other words, before we had kids!) it was not uncommon for us to suddenly decide on a Saturday morning to drive to Milwaukee for a game or two. Lots of good memories were made roasting on the bleachers on hot days, listening to the pre-game on the car radio on the way south and even traveling to Arizona in the most miserable part of late winter in Wisconsin to watch spring training.
But once the children came along, work and family obligations piled up. We still went to games occasionally with the kids, but the spontaneity was a thing of the past. We moved to Oklahoma in 2000, and there are no professional baseball teams there. So we did catch Brewer games if they were playing in Kansas City, Houston or St. Louis a few times, but we quit following the fortunes of the team on an ongoing basis.
But now that we are back in Wisconsin, the sound of the radio broadcast (and the delightful voice of old Bob Uecker) is part of our life soundtrack again.
When the Brewers beat the Cubs last week it became clear there would be a playoff game in Milwaukee. We are knee-deep in the build project here, and have a list of things to do before winter a mile long, but something made me say "We should go to the game!" I said it without looking at the calendar, and before we even thought twice we had tickets.
So Friday night we were jammed in Miller Park with almost 45,000 other baseball fans, nearly all of them rooting for the home team, since they were playing the Colorado Rockies. There is something astonishing about being one of 45,000 like-minded people " in fact, few things in our current bitterly divisive times have such a power to unite people. So we screamed, cheered and groaned like one being through the game, and luckily were able to high-five total strangers in celebration of a victory.
I reflected during pitching changes and other lulls in the game that one of the reasons I love baseball so much is it is uncommon for anyone to get seriously hurt. Yes, players get hit with balls, and break limbs, but the specter of brain injury is more remote. There is no need for a "pop-up medical tent" on the field, and as a result, I rarely get tense or distressed watching like I do during a football game. Having played a very similar sport myself, I have a much deeper appreciation of the skills involved " base running, hitting and fielding; than I do for football skills. I never played football, even tag, and our son gave it one short try but soon turned his attention elsewhere. Consequently I often have to ask for interpretations or explanations of that game " not so with baseball.
There is something inherently charming about baseball. The quaint organ music, the well-known chants, the seventh inning stretch, singing "take me out to the ballgame." Even the food is unique " crackerjack, hotdogs and peanuts. Throwback snacks, really. The pace is slower " a cause of frequent complaints from many. But there is all kinds of things to do or look at in those times.
Friday, it was like old times as we listened to pre-game radio all the way down, and the next morning as we drove home, we enjoyed hearing highlights of the game on the post-game radio show. The soundtrack of our early days together, a part of our life back here in Wisconsin again.
It's a reminder that retirement is meant to be a time of spontaneity and renewing relationships. It is easy to get mired down in daily life, and forget to rediscover and indulge that part of ourselves " a part capable of bringing us great joy.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.
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