Skip to main content

Take me out to the ball game

The Phillies are going to the World Series. This is thrilling. Not really because it means much in the grand scheme of life, mind you. But in this moment in my life, it is huge.

Baseball means different things to different people -- and I think you either love it or you hate it. I mean, really, it's boring and slow. But there is no other game in the world that can change so quickly, in which one small error can be the difference between winning or losing. I don't think there's any other game, either, that carries such nostalgia and sentimentality.

I grew up on baseball. Literally. The whole time I was growing up, my dad was a coach for a nationally ranked high school baseball team. When I was really young, in addition to coaching, my dad played on two softball teams. Looking back from a mom-wife perspective, I'm not sure how my parents remained married -- him off coaching and playing while my mom did all the schlepping of two young children -- but from a kid's perspective, it was great: my spring afternoons and evenings were spent rolling down the grassy hill next to the field, eating water ice in the stands, cheering as dad's players scored another run or, even better, when dad whacked the softball beyond the centerfielder's head. (A serious piece of dad wisdom I carry with me to this day: If you can't run fast, you better hit it hard.)

Baseball was on the TV a lot when we were kids, or on the radio. The sound of Harry Kalas's voice calling a game still sends me back. When I was a child I wanted to be the first female major leaguer. And today, really, I can imagine no better job in the world than to be a professional baseball player. Of course as I got older, my fantasies revolved around becoming a baseball wife -- is there anything sexier than a man in a baseball uniform?

The last time the Phils got this far into fall ball, it was 1993. In the spring, I was a senior in high school; in the fall I was a freshman in college. In between, I was a rabid Phillies fan. That summer was one of the most exciting, hopeful, happy times of my life -- for many reasons of course. But that's all somehow wrapped up in my brain in a Phillie Phanatic suit.

One of the most excellent afternoons of my young life was the day of my HS graduation. Ater rehearsal a bunch of us hopped on the train, then the subway, to see an afternoon Phillies game. They played their arch-rivals, the Braves, that day, and completely lit'em up in the 7th inning. We had planned to leave the game early to get home with plenty of time to get ready for graduation, but we ended up staying through all the excitement -- I still get goosebumps remembering 40,000 people doing that tomahawk chop to mock the Braves pitchers -- and we didn't get home until about 20 minutes before the ceremony started. My mom literally threw my dress over my head as I chugged down some water and ran out the door. I delivered my salutatorian speech with a fiercely sunburned forehead, the roar of the crowd lingering in my ears, and the smell of cotton candy still in my nose. It rocked.

I worked in an ice cream shop that summer, and we played the games on the radio. We ran specials (unknown to the owner) every time the Phils scored. And it was cheaper to go to a game at the Vet and sit in the nosebleed section than it was to go to a movie, so my friends and I went to a lot of games. We'd sit so far away you could barely see the ball leave the pitcher's hand, but we'd laugh and eat peanuts and start the wave in our own little section. Pure fun.

So anyway, baseball means a lot to me, especially Phillies baseball. It's summer and friends and happy, simple times. It's my dad and my childhood. It's sunshine and ice cream and silliness.

And cheering for the hometown team in a championship brings people together in a way that nothing else can. Right now especially, at a time when I often feel overwhelmed by so many adult responsibilities and anxieties, it's nice to have something so simple to get excited about.

Go Phils!


  1. Amen, sister! I am so excited for this series. And I know they will win because Scott and I won't be able to watch it together...:-(

    My dad was never really into watching baseball, but my great grandfather would be parked in front of the television any time the Phillies were playing. He played in the Phillies farm system and was an absolute diehard fan. That's the first thing I think of when I remember my Pop-pop (well, and his snapping turtle soup!).


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Boardwalk ghosts

“Imagine this, buddy, in the middle of summer, especially near the Fourth of July. Wall to wall people, just sort of moving in and out of each other. Flashing lights. Loud music. Screams from Morey’s Pier, laughter on the swirly rides. Oh...and the cream, funnel cake, fudge, cheese steaks, pizza, fries...the smells alone would drive you nuts!” 
It’s 5:00 on the evening before his Nana’s funeral, and we’re standing in a windy drizzle on an empty Wildwood boardwalk. My mind has flashed back to the summer of 1991, when I spent a week here with my best friend. Wicked sunburn. Tandem bike adventures. Water slides. Thrill rides. A ground-shaking thunderstorm. Friendship bracelets. College guys taking showers outside. Ice cream and VCR movies every night.

Back in the here-and-now I’m trying to explain to Zippy what this place is like when it’s not October. He’s been to Rehoboth and Ocean City and Old Orchard Beach, but none of those come anywhere close to Wildwood in peak season.…


Zippy and I hiked in the woods the other day, following the icy trails around Evergreen Cemetery. The cold air stung our eyes but the sun shone warm and bright, and it felt great to breathe fresh air. As he skipped and hopped and twirled beside, in front, and around me, I felt peaceful, happy, content. Until I realized the Womens' March is in a few days, I am going, and I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this, except for a few years ago at Occupy Philly, which was nothing compared to the numbers they're anticipating this weekend. The Women's March will be a peaceful protest, yes, but 200,000 is an awful lot of people in highly charged city during turbulent times. I felt anxiety creeping into my chest.

"So you know I'm going away this weekend, right? To Washington, D.C. For just two sleeps. Do you know why I'm going?" I asked Zippy.
"Because you don't like Donald Trump and he's going to be the President."

Look up

I walk a lot. Walking is one of the pieces of my Portland lifestyle that I value most, in fact: countless trails, parks, paths, and sidewalks that not only get me where I need to be, but also show me woods and sea and proud old homes and all sorts of loveliness. (I also walk past a lot of not-so-lovely in this town each day, but we'll save that for another post.) Sometimes when I walk through a quiet neighborhood, like the one over here along Clifton Street in Back Cove, I feel envious of single-family homes and yards and kid-friends playing together in the driveway. Other times in these same neighborhoods, I feel grateful for the ample parking and snow removal of our rental home, as well as for landscapers who cut the grass and landlords who come to fix the kitchen lights or replace the dryer when it punks out. When I walk through Evergreen Cemetery, often I feel contemplative, peaceful; its consecrated ground and hundreds of years of history soothes me. Other times I feel sad an…