Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Nostalgia for Times Not Had

I know, I haven’t written in a while.  In truth, I’ve just been crazy
busy with work and life.  That’s my only excuse.  Oh, and this isn’t
about Roller Derby, but don’t worry, I have more of those marinating
in my always churning mind.

When I was a little kid, I remember my father taking me to the sports
store and buying me my first baseball mitt.  I remember the stiff feel
of it, the black leather, the sweet smell, the promise of a baseball
mitt.  Because in truth, a baseball mitt is like a friend, a lover
even.  At first it’s uncomfortable, everything is a little bit stiff,
a little forced.  But little by little, the more time you spend
together, the mitt becomes a part of you, it forms to you and you form
to it, until you can’t tell where you end and the mitt begins.

I remember sleeping with the mitt tucked into my mattress, with a
baseball tightly inside, in an effort to break it in.  I remember
distinctly playing catch with my dad at the park down the street from
our house.  I remember the sheer exhilaration of realizing for the
first time how hard I was actually able to throw and hit a ball, that
my size and my muscle, was an asset and not something that was holding
me back.  I could sprint when I needed to, but if I hit that ball hard
enough, there was no need to sprint.  Baseball was the sport for me.

Around the same time, I also have distinct memories of having
something that I could share with my dad.  Really, really share with
him.  I remember collecting baseball cards (Mom, if you find them, I’m
pretty sure I have a valuable Nolan Ryan card somewhere in my
collection), and hearing about him collecting Sandy Koufax and Mickey
Mantle cards.  My dad taught me the mythos of Baseball, he described
in detail the famous Babe Ruth homerun where he pointed to where he
was about to hit the ball.  He told me about Joe DiMaggio and Willie
Mays, we’d have discussions about Rickey Henderson, Jose Canseco and
Mark McGwire (I started off life as an A’s fan.  In fact, I used to
sleep snuggled up with a Jose Canseco stuffed doll…yep, Jose Canseco
is the first man I ever slept with).

I also remember distinctly the absolute thrill of going to baseball
games.  Whether it was to the Oakland Coliseum or traveling all
bundled up to Candlestick Park, there was a magic about watching live
baseball.  I’ve always thought of baseball as a thinking man’s game.
There’s a quiet tension, a subdued beauty to the game of baseball, one
that not everyone takes the time to appreciate.  It’s not a frantic
game, like basketball and football.  Baseball is like a symphony, it
takes its time to get where its going.  It meanders thorough its nine
inning life, with the knowledge that at any moment something amazing
and unexpected can happen.

When Barry Bonds started playing for the Giants, I became a Giants
fan.  Incidentally, I also gave up catching and started playing Left
Field.  I’ve been a Giants fan ever since.  I don’t condone Bonds’ use
of steroids, and toward the end of his career, I somewhat believe that
he was a kind of embarrassment to the Giants (believe me, if you had
to walk through Dodgers’ Stadium in a Giants shirt when Barry Bonds
played, you would agree with me).

But, I also became a teenager at some point in the late 90s and
stopped following baseball.  Through high school and college, I didn’t
really follow it.  It wasn’t cool to follow baseball so closely in my
group of friends.  Sure, I went to some games (Oakland had $1 games on
Wednesdays), I got excited in 2002 that the Giants were in the World
Series, then watched them choke badly.  I lost approximately $20 on
that series (hey, I was in college, that was a lot of money).

Finally, in my early 20s, after moving to L.A., I came back to the
magic of baseball.  One of my best friends is another big Giants fan,
and we would trek to Dodgers’ Stadium together and get beer thrown at
us, so we could watch the Giants.  It’s really amazing what being
universally hated in a place does to your commitment to your team.  I
think the vitriol of the Dodgers’ fans made me that much more insane
about the Giants.

As I got back into baseball, my father and I resumed our discussions
about it.  And for the first time I really understood where his love
of baseball came from.  He told me stories of Vin Scully blaring
through his mother’s house.  And perhaps I made up this memory, but a
part of me remembered one of the few times we visited my Grandmother
in Los Angeles and her having every radio in the house on the Dodgers.
In fact, there’s a part of me that will always have a big soft spot
for the Dodgers (I’ll root for them if they’re not playing the Giants)
because my Grandmother loved them so much.

My Grandmother died 3 years before I moved to Los Angeles, and there
are days, there are times when I wish so hard that she was here.  That
I could share the Dodgers with her.  That some of that enthusiasm she
imparted to my dad could be showered upon me.  There is a part of me
that mourns the fact that I can’t go over to her house and listen to
Vin Scully.

Inadvertently, my Grandmother’s enthusiasm for baseball was showered
upon me, and still continues to this day.  In fact, the other day, my
dad ‘announced’ to me the final inning of a Giants game and I found
myself holding my breath at every pitch…I wasn’t even watching it.
But still, as my baseball loving friend has moved away, and I’m in a
constant struggle to find someone to go to games with (God love my
derby wife, who does come with me even though she’s not a huge
baseball fan), I miss my Grandmother in a way that I never knew
possible.  I miss all the times we didn’t have, all the experiences we
didn’t share.

And at the same time, I’m ever grateful for baseball for giving me the
happy moments, the connections, and even the torture (see: San
Francisco Giants this season).  It’s these reasons that I tear up when
entering AT&T Park (and Fenway Park), that the bartenders at a few of
the bars I go to know to put the Giants on for me when I walk in.
It’s these reasons that I proudly wear my Giants shirts around
Downtown Los Angeles even though EVERY SINGLE TIME I do, someone says,
‘This is not the right place to be wearing that.’

Baseball to me is family.  It’s life.  And it’s even a little bit of
something I’ll never know, but cherish deeply.

Peace, Love, and Happy Father’s Day,
Julia

June 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment