As the snow would retreat to smaller and smaller patches in our yard every spring, there would be a feeling in the tips of my fingers that that would start crawling up my arm. It was a feeling that demanded action. I would often find myself staring out our living room window tossing a baseball up and down. Up and down. Up. Down. Fastball. Change-up. Curveball. Up and down.
My cleats that had stiffened over the winter would finally be donned mid-March, and not a moment too soon. The metal spikes would finally touch again upon their hallowed ground, if only to carry me back-bent over a muddy infield plucking weeds that had intruded during the winter. And of a sudden, the new season with its fresh statistics and limitless possibilities would be upon me.
Time passed fast and slow during baseball season. Hours would move like the legs of our catcher, slow and churning between the times that I could spend on the field. Each day was centered upon the warming up of my arm, the walk towards the pitchers mound and the twisting of bat handles to test for possibilities of heroism contained within.
On game days the team would arrive early and survey the field with its brilliant freshly chalked lines pointing down the first and third base lines. There would be a bag of sunflower seeds and a Gatorade from my father waiting in the dugout for me. There would be muttered prayers, slaps across numbered backs and a general tendency to view things cosmically. The air overhead would seem to buoy hopes and fears equally. The fans would call their wishes towards the heavens with the enthusiasm only mothers and fathers can have.
Benjamin Franklin mistakenly said that “Beer is proof God loves us.” He could not have been more wrong. Baseball is irrefutably the proof that God loves us. In the grand tent of the cosmos, baseball matters not a bit when compared with the salvation offered to us by our loving father. But baseball matters a great deal when seen as an exercise in how we are truly and wonderfully made by the Almighty. And I would like to think the Almighty is a Red Sox fan.