Friday, March 16, 2012

Baseball: A reader writes back

The other day I received an e-mail comment to my post about my lamenting the changes in baseball over the years. The author of the e-mail was a fellow Houston criminal defense attorney, Bill Hawkins. I was just going to post what he wrote to the comment section but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Bill's comments deserved a blog post of their own.

So here are the words of Bill Hawkins (with a couple of very noticeable exceptions, I have left Bill's words alone)...

The heart of your problem with baseball is actually found in your last paragraph.  You love the tradition of the trip to opening day with your son daughter.  It is timeless.  It is a beautiful part of your life that will linger forever in your memory.  You wish it would go on that way forever and I hate to be the one to tell you, but inherently, I think you know this already, it is like that part of your life, and eventually your sons daughters, that used to believe in Santa Claus.  There is a wonder to that aspect of your life that is all but impossible to duplicate in any other way.

You and your son daughter will always be able to share opening day, but it changes as he she grows older, because what is important to him her and his her perspective on it will change.  Like the game of baseball, the experience is similar, but not the same.  One day it is baseball, or in my case, a Harry Potter board game, and the next day, they are driving off to college.  You cannot capture time and it passes way too quickly.

Now a shrink or some person far older and wiser than the likes of me might tell you that at its core your feelings about opening day and baseball really relate to our desire as humans to live forever and avoid the changes that go with life, and eventually lead to death.  I, on the other hand, would suggest that you are pissed because the changes lessen the impact of baseball on our lives.

I will hop in the way back machine, go back further than you remember, and tell you more about the way it was.  When I was in the sixth grade at Terrell Hills Elementary, life stopped for the World Series.  All the games were played during the day and were televised in black and white on TV.  A TV was set up in the cafeteria and you could watch it while you waited in line with your quarter to get your lunch tray.  You could even sit close while you ate your lunch.  It was so important that the principal allowed the big kids, that would be us sixth graders, to come watch the last few innings of the last game.

I have been a Houston baseball fan since I visited my grandparents and attended Colt 45 games at what became the Astrodome site.  I would sit there in my Larks uniform and swat mosquitos until the sun dropped enough that the gulf breezes chased them away  More often, baseball was enjoyed by sitting on the patio in San Antonio with my parents and listening to Astros games on the radio before baseball televised more than the Game of the Week and the World Series. It was simply wonderful.

The World Series, like baseball in general, is simply not the same now.  Money, not the love of the game, is the driving force and has been for quite some time.  When it is all about money the quality of life, or baseball, has taken a turn for the worse.  Until there are enough of us voting with our wallets to reverse the changes you have described, that is the way it will be.  So I suggest we have the wisdom to simply adapt to what we are unable to change, and focus on the things in baseball that have not changed for the worse. 

I like the fact that I am sitting in an air conditioned ballpark in August instead of sweating my butt off.  I like the variety of the food since I don't need the sodium in three hot dogs anymore.  I am thrilled about going to an afternoon game.  Since I can't afford an exotic sports car, watching a baseball game in the afternoon instead of sitting in an office or classroom is the ultimate way to honor Ferris Bueller in my book.  And lastly, I absolutely love the fact that I can get warm peanuts at the ballpark!  

Now, if they don't keep the warm peanuts, Crane and I will need to have a talk.  Until then, I will revel in the baseball traditions that remain, and honor the ones that are gone. 

Nice work, Bill.

My favorite Astros memory is from back in 1980 when the Astros went out to LA with a three game lead on the final weekend of the season. As fate would have it, they got swept and had to play a one-game playoff on a Monday. We were in middle school at the time. When the game began the principal put the radio broadcast on the school's intercom. We all sat at our desks and listened as the game unwound. I don't remember any of the details - other than that the Astros won - but I will never forget the feelings that afternoon evoked.

Since I don't have a son, I take my daughter's to sporting events. We've been to high school football games, Astros' games and Longhorn games. My mom was an only child and her parents loved sports so she spent her childhood going to the rasslin' matches at the old Coliseum and football and baseball games.

I will never forget the first games I took my girls to go see. One of my fondest memories is taking my oldest up to College Station to watch the Horns beat up on the Aggies. We took the bus back to the mall to get to the car. My daughter fell asleep on the ride. As I carried her out of the bus I could hear a woman behind us telling someone "that's precious."

I remember the games my dad took us to when I was growing up. I probably didn't appreciate it as much back then, but I look back at those days fondly now. I just hope my girls have the same feelings years from now.

1 comment:

Scott C. Pope said...

This is vintage Bill Hawkins. I love that guy.