Baseball season is upon us, and with the first pitch of Opening Day in cities all around the country, the magic of the first nine innings is only trumped by the childhood memories of games gone by. Baseball is not just a sport, it’s a generational unifier. It has forged so many relationships between fathers & daughters, grandfathers & grandsons, and families & friends in general. Going to a ballpark has all the ingredients to solidify a bond regardless of age, gender, or race. A simple hot dog, the crack of the bat, and the seventh inning stretch all strike a chord to anyone who has attended a game with a loved one or close friend. While football is my favorite game to watch, baseball is home for me when attending the Park (mine being Fenway, of course).
What makes it even more remarkable is that in this age of up-to-the-minute technological advances, baseball is the only sport that remains better heard on the radio than watched on television. Of course, the ultimate would be listening to the game on the radio while being in the ballpark itself. It’s a game where stories and discussion can occur in between pitches, providing punctuation to the entire experience.
When I was a kid, nothing thrilled me more than when I went to the ballpark with my dad to see a baseball game. I loved being there together, regardless of the game or score. My dad used to tell his friends that the Red Sox could be losing by 10 going into the bottom of the eighth, and when he asked me if I wanted to head home, I would say, “They still have a shot Dad, let’s wait it out.” Perhaps my youthful optimism played a part, but to be honest, I just didn’t want the moment to end. It was utopia for a ten-year old boy.
The memories are so vivid with highlights of trips to the ballpark, that when I became an adult and got into the business of sports, my dad and I started a tradition of going to Opening Day together, rain or shine, 60 degrees and sunny or 30 degrees with a chance of snow. We had not missed a game until last season when Opening Day was on Easter Sunday. My dad viewed it as a sign, and I agreed. It was time for our tradition and memories to be extended to a new generation.
My son turned 10 this year and my daughter is 12. We have been to Sox games together, but never with my dad. We’re not prepared to take them out of school for their first Sox Opening Day, so my dad and I are forgoing our Opening Day tradition and taking the kids to game two (it’s on a Saturday). It’s the beginning of a new tradition, and yet another generation able to soak up the wonders that a day at the park with a dad and papa provide. I hope their memories at age 45 are as rich as mine, and that they’ll always want me to take them out to the ballgame.