Do You Really Love Baseball?

You hear people always claiming to love their favorite sport. I think most of the time, those fans love the entertainment, not the sport. I do have to admit that anyone that could watch every second of a nil – nil soccer game must love that sport.
There’s one other sport that those who proclaim love really mean it if they really know the game. That sport is baseball. You have to really love baseball if you’ll watch it live in rain, snow, sleet, severe heat and freezing cold. If you celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day at the ball park, you love baseball.
If you love the Kansas City Royals, but will go to a St. Joseph Mustangs game or a Kansas City T-Bones game when the Royals are out of town, you do love baseball. If you are on a road trip, see the baseball lights and stop by to watch a Little League game, you love baseball.
There are a few signs for those that claim to love the game, but are really just rookies in the romance of baseball. If your favorite player is batting and hits a lazy fly ball to the outfield, you scream wildly, “Nice hit!” I really have to doubt your affection for the game.
How about a sharp ground ball to the shortstop when your team is on offense? Do you feel the batter was cheated when he is thrown out at first? You might yell, “Good try.” There’s the ground ball to the pitcher and you scream, “Go, go, go!” as the pitcher takes his time to make the sure out. I know “Hope springs eternal,” but you are really pleading to the hopeless with these scenarios.
After winning 20 games one year for the Boston Red Sox, Louis Tiant took six games to get his 21st win. When he was being interviewed after the game, icing his elbow and smoking a Cuban cigar, Tiant looked a certain reporter and said, “You don’t know nothing (about baseball).”
I have a little test to see if you are really one of those fans that love baseball. The first question is: Almost everyone tears up at the end of Field of Dreams. Why? Are you an old softie for happy endings or was it the significance of Kevin Costner playing catch with his dad, even though he is a ghost? Be honest.
In Bull Durham, Annie started the movie explaining how she chose her place of worship. Was the number of beads in a rosary or the number of stitches in a baseball more significant in her choice? I’ll give you a clue. Either baseball or organized religion laid too much guilt on Annie.
If you attended the 2015 Kansas City Royals World Series victory parade, did you do it to get off work? If that’s a “yes” your relationship with baseball is on shaky ground.
Now I have an easy trivia question. It’s absolutely necessary to know this answer if you claim to love baseball. What two teams do not have a “s” to end the name of their mascot.
One final trivia question; if you can answer this, you are truly a baseball know-it-all and can claim a deep love for the game. Two players in baseball history has hit over .300 before they were 20 and after 40 years of age. The only clue I will give is their names rhyme.
I am absolutely sure I love baseball. I have undisputable evidence. It started early when I would spend all my allowance on baseball cards. My favorite team back then was the Yankees. I kept buying the cards in hope of getting a Mickey Mantle but somehow I ended up with five Virgil Trucks. That wasn’t so bad because Trucks was a really good pitcher, but he played for the lowly Washington Senators. Still, I kept buying those cards anticipating hitting the lottery.
Despite no Mickey Mantle cards, a friend of mine invented a dice game with baseball cards. We were the only kids that would play nine innings with a single dice, keep records and statistics. I can tell you my best clutch hitter was Smokey Burgess. We would even trade players. All our friends thought we would pass away from boredom, but they only thing that killed me when Clay Dalrympie would beat my team on a walk-off hit.
When the weather was tolerable, some of the guys in town would start a game of baseball. We would play on the Clatonia baseball diamond if it was dry and not lined for an evening game. It didn’t really matter. There were a couple of pastures in the center of town. It the cow pies were dried, we might even get home smelling better that if those pies were wet.
I always made sure we had nine players for our little league team. Coaches were tough to come by. We had the manager of the local saw mill. The problem with him, he couldn’t even fill out the scorebook correctly.  He didn’t know that a putout from shortstop to first base is scored 6 to 3.
Once we had an alcoholic to coach us. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t remember the final score the next day. I tried hard to help him out, as did one of my friends. He offered to take us fishing out to Valentine National Refuse after the season as a reward for out help. We reluctantly agreed. He was so drunk from the six hour drive he set his tent up inside out.
Those experiences and many more laid the foundation for my attraction and affection for our national pastime and I don’t mean football. Red Sox, White Sox / Rusty Staub and Ty Cobb (answers to trivia question answers). You thought I would forget?

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