What Baseball is.....

Essay by payne140 April 2006

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Baseball is the President tossing out the first ball of the season. And a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm.

A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout - that's baseball. So is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his 714 home runs.

There's a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh 46 years ago - that's baseball. And so is the scout reporting that a 16-year-old sandlot pitcher in Cheyenne is the coming Walter Johnson.

Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered - or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

In baseball, democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag.

The creed is the rule book. And color, merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another's.

Baseball is a rookie (his experience no bigger than the lump in his throat) as he begins fulfillment of his dream. It's a veteran, too - a tired old man of 35 hoping those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September.

Nicknames are baseball. Names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki, and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.

Baseball is the clear, cool eyes of Rogers Hornsby; the flashing spikes of a Ty Cobb; and an over-aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.

Baseball? Just a game - as simple as a ball and bat. And yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, business and sometimes almost even a religion.

Why, the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World Series...