What could be more American than baseball and apple pie? Why would a Malaysian girl even give a hoot? Because baseball is Vin’s obsession. (He likes apple pie too, and blasphemously, I don’t, but that’s a different story altogether). During the spring and summer months Vin eats, drinks, lives, and breathes baseball. During the off-season, he keeps track of the trades and developments in the Major Leagues. We started dating in August of 2000, and by the fall of 2001 (the first full baseball season, spring-summer of 2001), I could read a box score. And Vin and I had a long-distance relationship.
Many baseball widows would probably reprimand me for encouraging this obsession but (un)fortunately for me, baseball means more than just something Vin is unnaturally fixated on. We met at a baseball game. What? What was I, the least-interested-worst-possible-athletic person in the world doing at a baseball game?
Yes, Vin and I met at a baseball game. It was not at Fenway Park, and it wasn’t a major league (or even minor league) baseball game. It was the over-30 men’s amateur baseball league in the greater Boston area. We were both living in Boston at the time and I was forced (yes, FORCED) to go to one of these games because my then roommate was going out with a guy who played on a team. She made me go to a baseball game even though I was kicking and screaming (why the f**k did I want to go and see her boyfriend play baseball??) because she thought Vin and I would hit it off. So, unsuspectingly, I went to a game, met Vin and the rest (as they say), is history.
Baseball, the American National Pastime. This seems to be something the average American boy never gets over – they start out playing t-ball at between ages 3-5, then eventually they start playing little league, then on to high school teams where the dream is that a baseball scout would draft you to play on a major league team after high school. For someone who is admittedly the worst athlete as well as the least interested in sports person in the world, there is a place for baseball in my heart. Vin still plays baseball in the greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area (don’t even ask if it’s softball – Hardball, folks). They play twice a week, 7 innings on Wednesday evenings and 9 innings on Sunday mornings. In the spring, I freeze my butt off bundled up like a polar bear watching his team play on Sunday mornings. In the summer, I turn browner than a grizzly bear, watching Vin and his team, the Putter’s Cubs. I watch all the plays like a hawk and although I almost never make it to Wednesday evening games (since I still work in Connecticut), I get a play-by-play on Wednesday nights during our nightly phone call. I know what an ERA is, an RBI, a double play, a fly-out, line drive, ground-rule double, bloop single, infield fly rule, and now very few baseball terms will stump me. Yes, I know what a 6-4-3 double play is. Do you?
Since it is now July, I am about halfway to being the color of dark chocolate, right around a caramel about to burn, just from sitting 3-4 hours in the sun every week, being a baseball groupie. Then when we get home, on Sunday afternoons, despite having watched hours of live baseball already, we watch the Chicago Cubs play, if they are on TV. Yes, the Chicago Cubs is Vin’s major league team. One of the first things he ever bought me in the course of our relationship was a Wrigley Field t-shirt. Every year he follows the Cubs, going on mini-pilgrimages to Wrigley Field with his high school buddies; whooping at them on television when they do well and screaming in agony when they don’t. The last time the Cubs won the world series was before World War I (1908, yes I know the year), and last year when the Red Sox won the World Series we were sure this year would be our year (and it still might be – don’t count us out yet!).
I’ve even branched into different media with regards to baseball. I’ve read Philip Roth’s Great American Novel (and I think I actually understood it!). I can follow the play-by-play of baseball on the radio. We’ve watched Bull Durham umpteen times, and I even witnessed Vin tearing up during the Keanu Reeves’ baseball movie Hardball.
Before I realized what was happening, I was unwittingly sucked into the world of baseball, pondering existential questions that baseball seems to answer. Nine innings of play determining whether you win or lose can be seen as a metaphor for your life – nine innings is the pre-determined amount of time you have been allotted, and whether you win or lose, what matters is how you play the game (or how you live your life). If you are at a tie after the 9th inning, carry on until somebody wins. You can cheat death when new medications or procedures are invented, so your nine innings stretch out to 10, 11 or more innings. How about rainouts? It might be a second chance or sudden death.
Before I met Vin, I actually went to a Red Sox-Orioles game at Fenway Park. Up in the nosebleed seats, every player seemed like little stick figures and it happened to be a pitchers duel (meaning nobody scored for about 8 innings) – which for someone who knows nothing about baseball, was a really uneventful boring game. Since then, I’ve been to the Cincinnati Reds games a few times each season, and I actually love it.
Baseball brings images of summer days and warmth. It is the American Pastime and permeates American culture and language. Little boys aspire to become major league ballplayers. In fact, they never grow out of it – even as adults, it is an absorbing game. Baseball is where I met the man of my dreams. Even though I think Vin’s passion for it might be a little extreme sometimes, I see how it came to being, now that I understand the seventh inning stretch, and “Who’s on First?”
I may complain about it but go ahead, buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks and take me out to the ball game! Let’s Play Ball!!
(hover over the following images for captions)
[[image:bb13.jpg:Playing Catch to warm up before a game – Vin in far left:center:0]]
[[image:bb12.jpg:Vin playing Right Field, opposing team’s man on first has a good lead:center:0]]
[[image:bb14.jpg:Getting the sign from the Catcher – fastball, curveball, slider:center:0]]
[[image:bb15.jpg:Vin winding up:center:0]]
[[image:bb17.jpg:Vin’s about to release the ball:center:0]]
[[image:bb16.jpg:Follow through, after the ball has been released:center:0]]
[[image:bb11.jpg:Umps chatting in between innings:center:0]]
[[image:bb06.jpg:In the dugout while the team bats – Vin keeping score on the left:center:0]]
[[image:bb07.jpg:Time for a pitching change:center:0]]
[[image:bb04.jpg:At bat, waiting for the pitch:center:0]]
[[image:bb02.jpg:Ball, inside. Good look, Vin!:center:0]]
[[image:bb03.jpg:Ready to swing:center:0]]
[[image:bb10.jpg:Action shot – swinging for the fences:center:0]]
[[image:bb08.jpg:Hit batsman! Luckily it just grazed his shirt – walk to first base:center:0]]
[[image:bb09.jpg:Taking second base on a wild pitch:center:0]]
[[image:bb01.jpg:Shaking hands at sundown – game over:center:0]]