The October leaves are here — bright shades of orange, red, yellow. We’ve enjoyed the warmth of an extended Indian summer. In November brown leaves will be harvested, blown from their tentative hold on the branches and scattering in the wind. Thus the season’s popular name.
We’ve had a colorful start to October baseball when even mild interest turns most of us into fans. The play-off series between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox was certainly colorful, and ultimately dominated by Boston.
Lory is from Cleveland and I’m from Boston. I felt torn, wanting to support her team — they haven’t won a World Series since 1948, and the Red Sox finally had their turn a few years ago.
In 1948 we didn’t have a television. Very few of us got to see a major league game. So, rather than watch, we played. We always had make-shift bases – usually a piece of old cardboard; sometimes simply an outline in the dirt carved with a stick.
We shared gloves. Usually we had only one bat. To start the game, after we chose up sides by having two kids take turns picking from whoever showed up, one would toss the bat to the other in an upright position, then the two captains would move alternating hands up the bat to see who got closest to the top. We argued over whether you could use fingers at the top, or use the top of the bat.
Then the game would get underway, playing as long as we could, seldom counting innings and almost never counting balls and strikes. It was a hitting game, with lots of home runs without fences—just running.
Baseball focuses on home. The batter stands at home plate, which is shaped like a little house, hoping to make the journey around the bases and return home without getting out. The umpire has a little house-cleaning brush — the master becomes the servant.
Baseball balances the individual player with teamwork, sometimes requiring a sacrifice bunt to move the runner forward. To win the game, the individual must be willing to work for the team.
Baseball can soothe the parched spirit. Take me out to the ballgame! Take me away from political corruption and innocuous incivilities; let the name-calling be drowned out by the roar of the crowd when they hear the crack of the bat. Give us all those great statistics — batting averages and records that get broken by the newest heroes.
Look again at the sense of instant community created in the stands as strangers share enthusiasm and hope for a victory. Who can live without hope!
The rules are like The Ten Commandments, carved in stone — the ump is today’s Moses. The game is pure poetry in motion, like the poetry of the sun shining on colorful autumn leaves before they turn brown and fall. I hope you’re enjoying the wonders of this special season.