What is both surprising and delightful is that spectators are allowed, and even expected, to join in the vocal part of the game.... There is no reason why the field should not try to put the batsman off his stroke at the critical moment by neatly timed disparagements of his wife's fidelity and his mother's respectability.
~George Bernard Shaw
From poetry and lyrics to movies and plays, baseball can be found in popular culture almost anywhere you look. Even people that think they don't know anything, everyone knows a little something.
Everybody in the country knows who Babe Ruth was. Derek Jeter's name is as well known as many Presidents. It's an amazing part of our culture.
So many things in our everyday lives refer to baseball in some way. If you fail to do something and you struck out, you need to learn from it. If you go out in the real world and try to achieve something big, like nailing an interview or making a big sales deal, it can be equated to swinging for the fences. Recently I asked a salesman how much something cost me... he told me "here's the ballpark figure...". Sometimes you "go to bat for somebody". Sometimes you make a mistake in life, and someone will tell you "hey, this time you struck out. Get them next time." Hell, we even refer to our sex lives in terms of baseball. Who out there remembers the first time they got to first base?
I see great things in baseball. It's our game — the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.
Today I was sitting around watching Baseball by Ken Burns. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it. It really got me thinking, what are the effects of baseball on America? I started looking around the Internet and found this article from 1981 from the New York Times. It was written just before the strike.
"WARS couldn't stop major league baseball, the Depression couldn't stop major league baseball; it seems the only thing that could is major league baseball itself. By the very threat of the players' strike, the idea that the great stadia would be empty this summer - and the crack of bat against ball merely an echo in the mind - gives pause to reflect on baseball and its meaning in the warp and woof of life."
Now, I was 8 years old at the time of that strike. I still remember how lost I felt that summer and the void it created. If it felt like that to a little kid, can you imagine how it felt to the country?
With the smell of grass in the air and the excitement of the upcoming season, I ask: What does baseball mean to you?
I leave you now to read one of my favorite poems.
Baseball is grass, chalk, and dirt displayed the same yet differently
In every park that has ever heard the words play ball.
Baseball is a passion that bonds and divides all those who know it.
Baseball is a pair of hands stained with newsprint,
A set of eyes squinting to read a boxscore,
A brow creased in an attempt to recreate a three-hour game
From an inch square block of type.
Baseball is the hat I wear to mow the lawn.
Baseball is a simple game of catch
and the never-ending search for the perfect knuckleball.
Baseball links Kansan and Missourian, American and Japanese,
But most of all father and son.
Baseball is the scent of spring,
The unmistakable sound of a double down the line,
And the face of a 10-year-old emerging from a pile of bodies
With a worthless yet priceless foul ball.
Baseball is a language of very simple words that tell unbelievably magic tales.
Baseball is three brothers in the same uniform on the same team for one brief summer
Captured forever in a black and white photo on a table by the couch.
Baseball is a glove on a shelf, oiled and tightly wrapped,
Slumbering through the stark winter months.
Baseball is a breast pocket bulging with a transistor radio.
Baseball is the reason there are transistor radios.
Baseball is a voice in a box describing men you've never met,
In a place you've never been,
Doing things you'll never have the chance to do.
Baseball is a dream that you never really give up on.
Baseball is precious.
Baseball is timeless.
Baseball is forever.
- Greg Hall