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So many things to love about America’s game

March 26, 2008
Wayne Cook
With the 2008 major-league baseball season starting Tuesday — in Japan, of all places — I figured it was time to think baseball.

Youth is our greatest resource. And, that includes the future of big-league baseball, with their attendance being critical.

With that introduction, I will jump into a book that was a No. 1 seller on the New York Times best-selling list.

It’s called, “Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan’s Soul.”

The book, which is available at all bookstores, gives inspirational stories of baseball, big-league dreams and the game of life.

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I talked about youth, which includes babies, but how do they compare to baseball. Well, there’s a story, “Diapers and Diamonds.”

Soon after his first child was born, Yogi Berra called fellow baseball player Jimmy Piersall, who has nine children, and asked for a few tips on changing diapers.

“Yogi,” explained Piersall, “you take a diaper and put it in the shape of a baseball diamond, with you at bat.”

“Then, fold second base down to home. Take the baby’s bottom and put it on the pitcher’s mound. Then, pin first base and third base to home plate.”

“That’s easy,” Yogi said. “I can do that.”

“Wait a minute, Yogi,” cautioned Piersall. “One thing about this game — when it starts to rain, there’s no postponement.”

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Here’s a story, “A Little League Mom.”

While raising our first three sons, my wife had put aside her dislike of sports and served as a Little League mother.

Now, eight years after the birth of our last son, she was about to have a fourth child.

After the baby arrived, the nurse came to the hospital waiting room to get me.

My wife was on a stretcher, being wheeled back to her room when I caught up to her.

“Your husband doesn’t know what you had,” the nurse said, prompting her.

My wife looked up with a drowsy smile and answered, “Another four years of Little League — that’s what I had.”

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Here’s a sampling of “So Many Things to Love About America’s Game.”

The list is compiled by Howie Stalwick, the sports editor of the Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Press Daily newspaper.

Here’s his list:

It’s opening day, and I love baseball.

I love baseball stadiums, especially old ones in old parts of town.

I love baseball cards — for the right reasons, not for the money.

I love the fact that 60 feet, six inches, three strikes and nine innings and ninety feet are still perfect after all these years.

I love the echo of baseballs being hit during batting practice in any empty stadium.

I love watching windbreaker-clad pitchers run wind sprints on the outfield warning track during exhibition games.

I love the fact that Choo Choo Coleman, Pee Wee Reese and Cool Papa Bell answered to those names. As adults. In public.

I love the scent of freshly-cooked popcorn in a stadium just about to open.

I love a beautifully dragged infield and a pitcher’s mound carved just so with the resin bag in back.

I love the ivy at Wrigley, the Green Monster at Fenway, the subway that practically drops you off at home plate at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

I love the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I love the minor leagues.

I love the World Series and the jewel of a miniature (Little League) diamond in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

I love finding a game on the radio when driving a lonely stretch of highway late at night.

I love the fact that Yogi Berra didn’t say half the funny stuff he’s credited with saying, but the stories are just too good to let go.

I love bat boys, ball girls and P.A. announcers with pizzazz and a clue.

I love shagging fly balls. Still do.

I love seeing kids’ faces light up when a ballplayer says anything to them. Anything at all.

I love watching men so incredibly gifted that they can swing a stick at a tiny, speeding, rock-hard sphere (baseball) and make it fly great distances.

I love watching second basemen fly over sliding base runners to complete the double play.

I love bullpen cars and foul poles that are in fair territory and dugouts that are truly dug out of the earth.

I love a deserted clubhouse decorated with freshly laundered uniforms hanging in cubicles filled with the working tools of ballplayers.

I love Edgar Martinez’s swing.

I love Randy Johnson’s fastball.

I love Junior Griffey’s smile.

I love a center fielder flagging down a fly in the gap, a shortstop coming up throwing from the hole, a blurry-fast relay from he outfield that nips a sliding runner at the plate.

I love meal money, tips for the clubhouse attendants and visiting players who take the time to say something to put the bat boy at ease.

I love Bull Durham, Major League and A League of Their Own because they captured, on film, the incredible joy and agonizing pain of trying to play a game for a living.

I love keeping a scorecard.

I love the seventh-inning stretch.

I love drinking cold beer in a distant seat in a minor-league stadium I’ve never seen before.

I love that (Chicago broadcaster) Harry Caray was loved by fans because he loved them, the Cubs and baseball. Not necessarily in that order.

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What’s the record for home runs hit by one team in college baseball?

In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, it was reported that Georgia Southern hit 14 homers in a 26-8 win over Columbia.

That was an NCAA record — in all divisions.
 
 
 

 

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