0

A baseball fan for life - Jeffery Whitfield

Think it feels like fall yet? Christmas wreaths are cropping up in department stores, cool weather is creeping ever closer to our doorsteps and college football is churning toward its final games.

After all, a collegiate national championship must be crowned.

But what of the once fabled national pastime? What of the sport whose stars - like the swaggering Babe Ruth - were once icons of American culture?

Baseball captivates many of the memories of our parents and grandparents and its moments are like virtual roadmaps for residents over 30 to recall their life.

Bobby Thompson hit “the shot heard round the world” in 1950, catapulting the New York Giants to a National League pennant and World Series appearance.

Older residents can recall defining moments like the Giants had and many can remember the excited pitch of animated announcers describing the play-by-play action of the games.

But what of younger residents? My own peers watch with casual disinterest. There interests seem splintered. Of course there is baseball, many would say, but there is football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, swimming ... even basketweaving.

And what of the cheating? Both old and young chide baseball. Who needs a sport with players laced with steroids like cattle, some might ask.

I disagree, even though I am outnumbered by people my own age. I consider all sports is tainted with abuse, but nothing in life is pure. (Ask any University of Alabama football fan about what it means to love their team despite rules infractions.)

I'm not old enough to recall moments from the golden era of baseball from the 1950s like Thompson's home run. But I still have my gems.

I can remember watching Kirk Gibson limp around the bases in the 1988 World Series as he pumped his fist after sending a pitch from Dennis Eckersley into the right field bleachers of Dodgers stadium.

When Sid Bream slid across home plate, beating Barry Bond's throw home and scored the winning run for the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 National League Championship Series, I was an ecstatic 16-year-old.

I guess I am a baseball fan. Maybe it's not in vogue any more, but I like the sport. And I like it better than the rest of the lot.

Jeffery Whitfield can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247 or jwhitfield@news-daily.com