You never forget your first time. It's a magical experience that lives with you forever. Yup, I'll never forget my first time. I was three when it happened. I watched baseball for the first time, and it was love at first sight.
Now that I t got that lame intro out of the way...let's continue.
I was born in Brooklyn. For those who haven't visited or seen pictures; buildings are pretty much on top of each other. The garages had about a 2-foot gap between them. Plenty of space for a three 1/2 year old to fit through.
Well one summer afternoon, I decided to venture down this little gap. By the time I reached the back of the yard, I thought i was in an open field. Looking back, it was probably a 4x7 patch of dirt behind our garage. The area had a chain link fence on one side. On the other side of that fence was a local baseball field for high school kids.
I was intrigued by the field and the players on it. After a while one of the players came up to the fence. He was repeatedly throwing a ball into his glove and starring me down. He asked what I was doing? I was taken aback by this question. All I can think of was "WOW!!! One of the big kids is talking to me!!!" He smiled and waited for an answer. I somehow had the nerve to say I wanted to see what they're doing. He laughed and said that practice is ending, so there isn't much to see. But if I come back tomorrow night, I can watch the game from my little area. A giant smile appeared on my face and said ok. Before I ran off he yelled out one last thing. He said, " I'll be playing the position over there. So look out for me."
The next night I made sure I was there. But this time I grabbed a play school fold up chair and my sesame street radio to entertain me. I can really remember one aspect of the game. But it was one hell of a play that I'll die with.
As I'm in my chair a ball was hit towards me. I thought it was going to go over the fence and hit me. But it was going to hit the warning track. All of a sudden, that kid from the day before, made a spectacular sliding catch right in front of me! I thought he was super-man. Since it was the last out, he slowly got up. I was cheering and going nuts. He looked at me, smiled and said, "that's how you play baseball kid, one day this will be you."
He ran off and my mouth was left open in shock. I quickly ran to my dad at the BBQ. Got his attention and demanded, "TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT BASEBALL!"
He took me to see more games at that local field, then we watched lots of ball games on tv, and of course played T-ball in the back. It was love at first sight. Then I found Don Mattingly, the Yankee first baseman. It couldn't get any better.
Baseball has done a lot for me. It's helped me gain lots of friendships, re-connect with my dad, stay active & just have thousands of hours of entertainment.
So as the inaugural opening day begins today. I smile when I see little kids in oversized hats, and think about way back when. It's a magical time that no words can really explain. Well, other than, PLAY BALL!