For some of us, it doesn’t hit us at first. We’re just normal kids running around, jumping in puddles, finding ways to get grass stains on the knees of our pants, and getting excited every time we hear the ice cream truck jingle. But then, like all life forms, we grow up and (some of us) learn patience and develop attention spans. And then we get lucky enough to go to our first Major League game, only at the time, we don’t know we’re lucky. We enter the gates, take our seats, and that’s when it hits us. This newfound love interest. This wonderful world of baseball. This sacred haven. Once we’ve gotten over the pure beauty of it all then we start to ask ourselves questions. Where has baseball been all my life? Well, it’s been here but I never looked at it this way before. How could I have missed it? Where have I been? How could I have been living this way?
Baseball was always just that thing your little brother did on Mondays and Wednesdays and you never paid any attention because there was grade A swing set to be played on. Never did anyone expect it to knock your socks off, but it did. And it changed everything. It only took until the second batter of that first inning of your first game for you to feel highly embarrassed that you had no team gear on in support of your new favorite thing, which is now something you’d never allow yourself to happen ever again. And so started the flood of T-shirts and flags and socks and pins and any other trinket that had your team’s logo stamped on it. Your relatives were grateful because it made buying presents for you so much easier. You memorized players and their numbers, you became fluent in the baseball language, you even knew the habits of every player when they got in the batter’s box. And you didn’t just watch the games on TV, but you listened to them on the radio as well. And before you knew it, you were in love and the rest was history because with baseball in your life you will always live happily ever after.
At least that’s how it is for some of us. (But not quite because losing seasons sometimes get in the way of our happiness but that’s ok, too because there’s always next season.)
For this article, I chatted with a woman decked out in Dodgers gear. Her name was Colleen. I tried asking her opinion on certain things, but she kept insisting that she didn’t know anything and that she was “just a fan.” A fan who started out bored with the game but learned to love it like some of us do. A fan who took a red-eye flight to see the Rockies, the Reds, the Dodgers and the Indians play all in one day. A fan who doesn’t keep in the know with all the latest rule changes and managerial decisions because she’s just a fan. Just a fan. I wonder how many other people are like Colleen. Content with the game because they love baseball and nothing will ever get in the way of that because baseball has become a part of who they are. Through thick and thin they’ll always support their team, always watch the games, always love baseball. Why? Because they’re just fans.