When I was a little girl, my sister and I would visit my dad's parents for two weeks a summer. Shockingly, Waterloo, IA isn't exactly a hotbed of activity and our days were mostly dorking around the house, running in their huge garden and, for me, watching Cubs games in the afternoons with my grandpa.
He'd be mowing the lawn, or doing something with the corn, something outside and would come in about ten minutes before the first pitch. We'd have ham sandwiches and icy Cokes. He would spend the whole three hours griping about what bums they were and how blind the umps were and WOW didn't anyone ever hustle anymore? I didn't learn anything subtle about baseball from my grandpa, he didn't talk stats or about pitch selection with me, we just watched the game and complained about the bums on the field.
I fell in love with baseball in those summers, but the kind of love that you know you will revisit. Some years it was true love, some years just a mild crush. But year after year we watched the games and it just became a part of me.
In later years we moved to an American League city. Baseball was one of the few things my dad and I could talk about without fighting. I learned about the designated hitter and forkballs and had my heart break a dozen times. I am a baseball fan. We are a dying breed if you listen to the media. But I have my doubts. I think kids across America are watching games with their grandpas (and grandmas), learning the game without knowing it. They don't call themselves fans today but they will in ten years.
This weekend my Cubs (!) clinched the National League Central. Unlike last year we are not worn to the bone just making the playoffs. It's the 100th Anniversary of our last World Series. No pressure guys but it would be nice.
Tonight is the last game at Yankee Stadium. If you are a baseball fan you love Yankee Stadium. You might hate the Yankees but you love the Stadium. I did not understand when the Yankees announced they were building a new stadium. I still don't. To me Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are like holy lands. They are special. They are magical. And I can't really imagine voluntarily giving that up.
I watched the closing ceremonies tonight. They had Whitey Ford and Yogi. They had Don Larsen and Thurmon Munson's kid. Bernie! Boomer! I was sobbing (J is playing softball and I stupidly didn't tape it for him). It breaks my heart.
Baseball will keep moving forward. The Cubs made the playoffs. But Babe Ruth's daughter threw the first pitch. And a little bit of the game is dying tonight.