The new baseball season began last night. Baseball encompasses things central to my life: observing, reporting, storytelling, and history. It is a game to be played, to be watched, the event of each game to be retold in the days and years to come – so appealing to a writer. The season begins with spring, ends with autumn, and in the middle is glorious summer.
While watching the game on television I kept score. Not that I’m any good at it, nor would my efforts likely pass muster with my sportswriter friends. But I have been a baseball fan from the time of my first memory. I like how the game unfolds, the setbacks, the triumphs, the drama. Effort is rewarded, luck occasionally plays a role in the outcome of a game, error definitely so. But each game, each inning, each at-bat a story unto itself. Keeping track of the events is at once reporting and storytelling. At its conclusion, the game becomes a part of history.
Today is also the first day of Poetry Month. I am not a poet, know little about it except what I learned in school, which I misremember or cease to remember altogether. But I know Walt Whitman said, “I see great things in baseball.” Aside from the game being played professionally, and the professional game needing to exist at the intersection of commerce and entertainment, baseball today has not changed very much from the game played in Whitman’s 19th century America. The game is a constant thread in the American fabric. It should be told, and has been, by better writers than me.
My life as a storyteller did not begin with baseball. And I was never very good at playing the game. But it was easy for me to see that with each season, from the littlest league to the pros, that the game, the stories of the games played, the losses and wins, and one team’s triumph at the conclusion of a season, fits into the sense of ourselves and the lives we live as we pass through our time on Earth.
And each spring I am thankful for that.