These old ballparks are like cathedrals in America. We don’t have big old Gothic cathedrals like they do in Europe. But we got baseball parks.
My love for baseball came from my grandfather. He was my first coach and my guide on the history of the game of baseball. He played single A ball for the Giants organization, or at least that’s what he claimed, until an injury sidelined him for good, cutting what would have been a sure-fire hall of fame career. Every weekend that I went to their house consisted of a game of catch then retiring to the living room to catch the game. Grandma, trying to shield my innocence, convinced me the players were chewing bubble gum and raisins when I would ask why they spit brown liquid every 5 minutes or so. By the way, for those that are wondering: it was not a particularly tasty combination when I tried it in my next little league game, but I did look pretty cool.
Remembering my grandparents and how they encouraged and sparked my interest in baseball got me thinking. In 20 years — three years my kids have finally moved out of my basement — and have kids of their own, who will I be telling the grandkids about? What play will I describe in detail as “the single greatest play I ever saw”? I remember the names he told me, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron to name a few, but who is playing now that will be the beginning to the next generation of fan?
My stories will involve the players from my youth that have cemented their place in the games rich, long history as well as my own memory bank. I will captivate those little monsters with tales of Griffey’s swing, Henderson’s speed, Maddox’s change up, Bonds physique that was all natural… right. I will recall the madness of the race to beat the single season home run record between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and then let them know about how allegations of steroid use that almost ruined the game. I will describe the bench clearing brawls between the Red Sox and the Yankees back when teams hated each other, and rivalries were real and not just something TV announcers bring up to fill air time. And of course, I will work in that I would have gone pro if not for my lack of talent. I inherited my tall tale ability from grandpa.
Today there is no shortage of potential generational players in the MLB now and in the minor leagues, and a player’s impact on the game usually takes years to fully be recognized or understood so it is hard telling who will end up being remembered and for what. But there are a few smart bets that can be made. Mike Trout is a very good bet to take his spot amongst the greatest players in the history of the game. Max Scherzer seems to have the ability to throw a perfect game every time he toes the rubber, Bryce Harpers bat and hair flips are no clown question bro, Clayton Kershaw is a dominant lefty that can dismantle batters in the regular season. Whatever the future of baseball holds there is no denying that interest in the game starts in the back yard with a simple game of catch, so grab your kid (YOUR KID) and get outside and continue the tradition. Play ball.