As I sit here watching the snowflakes fly outside my office window, I am reminding myself that it is baseball season. I always look forward to hearing that the teams (the Pirates in particular) are heading to Florida in preparation for the upcoming season. I don’t know if that’s because I know that is a sign that spring is around the corner (this year, apparently the joke is on me) or because I’ve actually become a fan of the game.
Hailing from a family where motorsports is king, baseball wasn’t something that was a big deal in our household. I recall going to my first Pittsburgh Pirates game at Three Rivers Stadium with my church youth group. I was probably about 12 or 13. It was a hot, mid-summer afternoon, our seats were not under cover and it seemed as though play went on forever. I knew the object of the game was for the players to hit the ball and make it around the bases, but I didn’t really know about the game. I was thankful for the experience, but I can’t say I was anxious to do it again.
Fast forward several years to my sophomore year at Bethany College. As a communications major, it was required that I complete on-campus media experiences. I had been a member of the newspaper staff writing news and feature stories the first semester, but my advisor thought it would be a good idea to change things up a bit, so covering baseball became my new assignment for the spring semester. I was mortified! For starters, how could I write about something I knew nothing about? Secondly, the head coach was a little high strung and he yelled a lot and I was going to have to cover the baseball games? I was mortified! After some sleepless nights and a whole lot of stressing (and in an effort not to appear as a total butt when the first article was published) I told the coach that I really didn’t know a whole lot about the game. I asked that he please be patient and that I would do my absolute best to catch on as best I could and as quickly as possible. In that instance, I figured honesty was the best policy, right? Fortunately for me, he took in all in stride and apparently looked at the situation as a teaching opportunity. By the end of the season, I’d written many articles on the topic, learned the rules of the game, field positions, how to keep score, etc. I even tried batting, but that didn’t go so well. And while all of that was happening, I became a fan.
Here we are, 25-plus years later, and I am still following the Pittsburgh Pirates. I always enjoy attending the games – much more than I did that very first time. Having a better understanding of baseball has certainly contributed to that. I was a fan of Andrew McCutchen and, of course, was sad to see him leave Pittsburgh. And PNC Park – what a beautiful place with a stunning view of an amazing city! How could I not love the Buccos? My fingers are crossed for a successful season.
Bethany’s baseball coach, my long-time friend, is still coaching at the College, but I’m told he has mellowed since the early 90s. Thanks for the lessons, Carv. Spring wouldn’t be the same without baseball, even if it is snowing.