What Baseball and Holidays Have in Common
What else is there?
Is it any wonder between the last out of the World Series and the first pitch of Opening Day we celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, the entire Christmas season, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, and sometimes Passover and Easter? That's most of our major holidays. Ever wonder why that is?
It takes all those festiviites to try to fill the void left when there is no baseball.
Think about it. What else in life can you get almost every day, for free, that's not fattening or illegal, that offers you drama and comedy, skill and dumb luck, heroes and goats, adventure and boredom, team work and individual excellence? My husband would complain it doesn't have women, but he's not counting television commercials if you're at home or between inning entertainment if you're at the ballpark. No, I'll concede, there are no cheerleaders. Why would you need them? It's baseball.
A baseball fan counts each and every day between the end of October and the beginning of April every single year. Spring Training helps pass the time a little, but it's kind of like kissing your sister. How excited can anybody really expect you to get? When I was younger, I thought the only thing more boring than going to a baseball game was baseball on TV. But, like I said, I was young. You learn things as you go along in life.
Dave Kindred of The Sporting News was right. Football has drives. Baseball has moments. I mean, who could forget Don Larsen's perfect game on October 13, 1960? It was Game Five of that World Series, the first no-hitter in Baseball History.
Or October 21, 1975? Carlton Fisk's tie-breaking home run off the Fenway Park foul pole winning that World Series Game Six off the Reds.
Or a game I was at on April 8, 1974? Hank Aaron. Need I say more?
Or October 15, 1988, Kirk Gibson limping the bases in the ninth inning to win Game One. Or the Earthquake Series the following year?
Truth be told, what really got me hooked on baseball was none of those historic moments. It was going to a regular Braves game at the old Fulton County Sadium in Atlanta shortly after our family moved back to the States from my husband's first overseas assignment with the Army. I'd just lived for three years in Germany with no TV, no iceberg lettuce, no hamburgers. The thing that struck me so hard about that game was it was just - so - American. It was a hot, Sunday afternoon. We ate hot dogs. We booed. We beat the Dodgers. I felt like I was really back home. Been a die-hard ever since.
Now, you have to understand a simple truth. Being a Braves fan is different than being a fan of other major league teams. You have to be a real meat and potatoes fan. You know better. You discipline yourself to just enjoy the regular season and not let yourself think too much about a post season. There was that thirteen year stretch and the one championship, but the memories will only get you through so many disappointments. Better to enjoy the 162 square meals we get between April and September and consider anything more - cake, maybe with icing.
Many perfectly respectable sports fans will move right on to football, basketball and hockey after the last out of the World Series. But for some of us, all we can say is, bring on all those holidays.
We're gonna need 'em.