8-13-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
Baseball has always been there, linking the generations through a common bond. The game, the players, and the cathedral like feel of where it’s played.
For me, my grandparents told me stories about the greats, and specifically the greats of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They told me about Kiner and Maz, Clemente and Stargell. My great-great grandfather who I was lucky enough to meet way back in the 80’s was 99 and he told me about Honus and Ted Williams. Gehrig and Ruth, Pie Traynor and Nellie Fox.
I showed him my stuffed turtle that I carried everywhere, and my meager baseball card collection. He had a personal story about every one of the old cards I had, a collection of names I’d studied ever since my uncle passed me them, but he brought them to life. He made me see them for the war heroes some of them were. He helped me understand that most of them didn’t make enough money to only play the game. More than anything, he taught me it was ok to get choked up talking about a special moment, even if it was “just a dagumm game”.
My father never really got into sports much, but even he knew what baseball meant to me and made sure we went to games. And he still proudly tells me about meeting Roberto Clemente.
That’s what baseball does, it connects us. All of us.
While we spend plenty of time talking about what’s wrong with the game, last night, baseball, and specifically MLB did something very right.
The game itself was incredible as the Yankees and White Sox exchanged dramatic late inning comebacks resulting in a 9-8 White Sox win.
But minus all the bells and whistles of a modern baseball game, somehow the game never looked brighter. No giant graphics boards, only 8,000 people in attendance, even the players refrained from the typically flashy protective gear for the most part.
Players had reverence for what they were doing, where they were standing and what it meant to them to be a part of it.
Maybe more than the players, this game was about what was going on in households across the country. Many of you know from my stories that my wife isn’t really into this whole sports thing I do, yesterday she came home from work and made sure I planned to watch the Field of Dreams game. She recorded the pregame. She cried when the players poured out of the corn, I might have too.
Because whether you knew it in the moment or not, everyone has someone they can think back on that shared a connection through baseball. I thought of my wife’s Uncle Pav who we just lost a couple years back, and how very much he would have loved this game. In the beginning stages of meeting the family, baseball was what we bonded over. When we saw each other he’d always greet me with “Hey Gar, how about those Buccos!”. How I wish I’d taken those passing hellos with more gravity, or saw them less as an opportunity to talk about the team’s shortcomings than just an opening to talk. You think you’ll have them forever, until you don’t.
I thought of my grandparents who all would have loved this game, especially that the Yankees lost.
More than anything I thought about how being so deep into the coverage of a baseball team, and swatting away hateful comments, constantly looking to the future has made me forget, at times, just how much I love this game.
It’s beautiful in its simplicity, yet somehow something we’ve never seen before happens almost daily. What we witnessed last night was truly one of them.
We spend so much time worrying about what’s wrong, we forget that a whole lot is right. The emotion, the passion, the electricity all came together in one perfect baseball cocktail last night.
So many players on the field represented races and nationalities that weren’t even allowed to play the game in the era they were thrown back to, a subtle reminder that baseball always evolves, maybe even before society does.
And not just any actor could have pulled off what Kevin Costner did on Thursday night. Sure he was in the movie, but his love of the game comes through in his quiet. Seeing young players like Luis Robert and Aaron Judge awestruck by the sights and sounds while Aaron Boone felt the generations of MLB players his family has produced converge on that field.
For one night, everything in baseball was right. There were no payrolls last night. No imminent trades. No cheap owners. Nobody making political statements or showboating. Just the purity of baseball.
I loved it. Every damn minute.
I’m sure what was done in that cornfield in Iowa last night won’t have lasting effect on most of us, me included. I’ll have to go right back to writing about bad baseball and how broken the economic system is. But for one night, everything was perfect, everyone was perfect, everyone was united, if all this accomplished was one night of unity, at least MLB proved it’s still possible.
There is more we share in common than divides us.
Baseball has for longer than any other major professional sport been one of those commonalities. Kudos to MLB and everyone involved for a flawless night. It awakened something in me that the day to day grind of covering a team has stolen, and I’ll try like hell to hold it close and not let go.