I’ve never been a good baseball player, though my grandfather would pitch ball after ball to each of my siblings and me on his visits to the farm. When we played baseball with my grandfather, there were no strikeouts and no one left the plate without making contact with the ball. He would somehow manage to miss everything batted toward him.
I never really knew a lot about the history of baseball until Miguel and I first lived together. We didn’t have cable and couldn’t even get public-access channels. In the pre-Netflix era, we found ourselves searching the shelves of the public library for our entertainment. There we found Ken Burns’ Baseball series. We slowly made our way through all nine innings.
During the programs, I learned more and more about the stories of the players, some of whom I always loved, like Babe Ruth, and others—like Fred Merkle—I’d learn to feel respect and sorrow. (For those who may not know, Merkle is credited with a base-running error where the New York Giants could have taken the National League Pennant if he’d remembered to touch second base before leaving the field. There’s a story that years later, a reporter came to Merkle’s door to ask questions about the error, and Merkle gently motioned his children away from the door so that they wouldn’t be able to hear the account – this detail kills me every time.) Some players I’d learn to admire for their skill and integrity on and off the field like Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson, and other players, like Ty Cobb, I’d learn to feel pity that he’ll be remembered as an awful person who happened to be a good baseball player.
The boys have just started to get interested in baseball. Javi will swing for as long as anyone can stand to pitch to him, though he switches his hands on the bat. Even still, he swings for the bleachers. Joaquín likes to bat as a south paw, though we’re not sure he’s actually left handed. Unlike his brother, Joaquín’s a precision hitter, seemingly trying to place each hit, rather than take the glory of a home run. Just like when my grandfather pitched to me, there are no strikeouts, and you can’t leave home plate until you make a hit on the ball.
What are your favorite baseball memories?