Of Baseball And An American Summer


As a child, my baseball activities were pretty much limited to TV broadcasts and the grass my father neatly mowed in the back of our Queens home. A bunch of us kids just gathered Frisbees as 1st 2nd 3rd and home bases. Our four collective mitts and one bat were in constant rotation, and a 9-player team was reduced to 4. Needless to say, besides the few accidents with the bat (unfortunately our resources prevented us from the safety of a catchers mask and cups for the boys), those scorching 90-something degree New York memories are some of my favorites. I went back to that same yard not too long ago and it looks tiny now, but that grass was once my Wrigley Field, my Yankee Stadium, my Fenway and my Shea.

Chocolate and a roasted mallow in the middle of two perfectly golden gram crackers on a July night works amazingly well, but there’s nothing like baseball during summer in the U.S.  Similar to Jimi Hendrix and the electric guitar (I could just hear those classic riffs on “Purple Haze”), baseball is almost synonymous with summertime. The sights of crowds around parks, the smells of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and everything about this season just scream hardball. Overall, not only is the game mostly played during this time, but the Major League season reaches its mid-point (a make or break time for many teams) and the All-Star Game takes place.

With the 4th of July right behind us, baseball was among the many American institutions that helped to celebrate the Holiday and for many reasons. For the most part, this is because the game is American History within itself. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, The All-American Girl’s Professional Baseball League all of these names ripped into the social barriers of human physical ability, race and gender in this country and in many ways work as reminders that continue to serve those purposes today.

I savor all the influences the sport has this time of the year. I enjoy the fact that each summer more fields are invaded by kids ecstatic to be out of school and ready to play. I enjoy that more stadium seats are filled by friends, families and hopeful fans. All-in all, I enjoy that more of us just simply realize what long hot days help us see, that we need to slow down and take in every minute just as we used to before we had to “grow up.”

So when summer rolls around every year there is no wonder why many of us get nostalgic and turn to the national pastime. Baseball, which some may regard as just a game, proves that the human ability is beyond what we can imagine: it breaks barriers and can turn a backyard into a major league stadium.