My friend Wendy loves Major League Baseball, and I’m talking the full extent of support. She can watch hours and hours of games on TV and never get enough.
She knows the players and their stats and would be first in line for season passes if she lived close enough. She also will gladly hop on a flight anytime for the official MLB ballpark experience.
Wendy’s interest in baseball is like my friend Chris’ love for the game.
He, too, keeps close tabs on the teams, players and latest drama — and settles into his happy place when breathing in the sights, sounds and smells of “The Show” in a packed stadium.
The topic of baseball also surfaces frequently among our team members at TAB Media Group, which produces The Baptist Paper.
We have a variety of children and grandchildren showcasing their skills from Little League all the way through high school — and starting soon we’ll have a Division 1 college pitcher among our ranks.
I’ve grown up around baseball players and have cheered for many a family member or friend. I even helped tutor a few of one school’s starting lineup during my early college years.
America’s National Pastime
Along with our personal experiences, many in the sports world affirm baseball’s nearly two century legacy as America’s National Pastime.
Athletes, coaches, professional commentators and sports reporters debate whether football, basketball or soccer currently is the more popular sport, but most all agree “baseball is still the godfather of American sports.” Mark Van Sickle used that term in a 2021 Sports Illustrated article, “No Matter What, Baseball is Still America’s Pastime.”
The National Baseball Hall of Fame describes the sport as “an American family tradition.”
“Baseball has had a very active role in the shaping of this nation,” according to baseballhall.org. “From the Civil War to Civil Rights and all points in between and beyond, the game of baseball supports and reflects many aspects of American life, from culture to economics and technological advances. It inspires movements, instills pride and even heals cities.”
While the first professional games surfaced after the Civil War, the sport was well established in its amateur form decades prior.
“Civil War soldiers on both sides played it as a diversion,” reports baseballhall.org. “Many veterans took the game home after the war and it became a great unifier in the years that followed the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history.”
Memorial Day an opportunity to pay tribute
As we pause this upcoming Memorial Day weekend to remember and pay tribute to those who have died through the years while in service to our country, let’s consider a renewed commitment to truly honor them.
Is it possible we’ve forgotten how to be grateful? Have we shifted more toward complaining and fixating as pastimes rather than intentionally looking for ways to help?
Finding our way back to a positive national pastime like baseball could be the answer to developing common ground as we work toward unifying what has reemerged as a divided country.