It just wouldn’t be summer without baseball! I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid, walking into town with my little sister to watch our big brother, Joe, play on the Little League team. After a game, we would walk to the store for a popsicle and candy. I grew up in Maryland, so I was a Baltimore Orioles fan – still am. But, I love the Detroit Tigers, too. I enjoy watching when the Detroit Tigers play the Orioles because I’m not disappointed, no matter who wins the game.
My brother collected Topps baseball cards (inside the pack of bubble gum), so I did, too. He would spend hours and hours trading them with his friends. I was mostly in it for the bubble gum, but I would get really excited when I got a card that Joe wanted.
I used to play baseball with my brother and all of his friends, even though they’d only ask me to play when they didn’t have enough boys to make a team. I played pretty well until I took a ball in the stomach that knocked the wind out of me. That was enough. My ball-playing days were over.
When they were little, my sons, Matt and Jeff played t-ball at West Shore Elementary School in Fenton. Rain or shine, I would grab the lawn chairs and their baby sister and go to the games to cheer them on. One of my favorite photos of my sons is at one of those games, Matt with his front teeth missing, bat thrown over his shoulder and an arm slung around his little brother’s neck. Squinting in the sun, they both had great, big smiles. When my daughter, Melissa, got older, she played t-ball, too. Her son, Brennan, played when they lived in Traverse City, and I would drive all the way there just to watch him.
Matt’s t-ball team was made up of kids with varying levels of skill and interest in the game. I’ll never forget one little boy on the team named Donnie, who just wasn’t really interested in catching or chasing the ball. He was assigned to play in the outfield and we would laugh while watching him wander around the field or sit down and pick flowers. The coach would yell at him: “Donnie! Pay attention! Catch the ball! Donnie, get up! Quit picking the flowers!”
I’m also a huge fan of any movie about baseball – The Sand Lot, Field of Dreams, Major League, For the Love of the Game, Angels in the Outfield – you name the movie, I’ve probably watched it more than a few times. One of my all-time favorites is A League of their Own. My favorite quote of course, is when Tom Hanks playing Coach Jimmy Dugan says to player Evelyn Gardner, “There’s no crying in baseball. There’s NO CRYING IN BASEBALL. No crying!” I would often say that to one of my grandsons when they were little and crying over something silly. I had to laugh when I overheard my grandson, Mack, say the same thing to his crying baby brother.
It’s true. Jimmy Dugan was right. There IS no crying in baseball. It’s time to kick back, grab a hot dog, a bag of chips and a cool drink, turn on the TV and watch the ball game! Go Tigers! Go Orioles!