“You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” – Jim Bouton
Life is a scorecard; an encrypted story in exotic-to-the-unwashed hieroglyphs, easily, quickly translated by those versed in the language. We can excitedly, precisely interpret the detailed story. The story of our life.
I’ve been told – more often than I can count – to take a walk.
I have sacrificed.
Took lots of pitches and touched all the bases. Made it to a few when I probably shouldn’t have, gotten thrown out when I tried to take an extra one…
and often experienced the thrill of sliding in safe.
I have played the field and struck out in love. My ears have echoed with the cheers of the crowd and have felt the sting of their boos.
I have made my share of errors.
There are times when I have been left stranded, others when I have been benched. I have been shelled, and pulled for a reliever who could close out what I started, could not finish.
I have made more than a few long, slow walks back to the dugout.
Ah, but the home runs have been sweetly plentiful.
I loved the game and life – and it returned the favor far more often than it could let me down. Oh, a few pennant races broke my heart – but isn’t that life in a nut shell?
I’ve had good winning streaks, taken a few tough losses to heart.
There have been brush-backs, bean balls and I’ve thrown and been thrown more than a few curves in my day.
Hurled a few biting changeups of my own, too. Others will tell you there are times when I’ve been a real screwball.
Sometimes I’ve had to play hardball. I have usually won.
I have been thrown out, tagged out, shut out.
I have balked.
I have loved the game – my life – it has returned the favor.
Now, the grass is greener than ever, lush and rich; the sky is always a vivid blue. In my mind I can always I feel the breeze on my face, breathe in the aroma of oiled, old leather, hear the distant crack of solid horsehide colliding with polished ash.
Someday I’ll be rounding third and headed for home, with someone waving me on. I’ll know then as I do now that it’s been a grand and glorious event, an extra-innings affair to remember; a ninth-inning grand slam.
It’s hopefully a long time before I need to come out of the game, many years before I’ll need a curtain call to acknowledge the home crowd, tip my hat and then disappear, headed for the clubhouse to hang up my gear for the last time.
Not now, not today.
It is spring again.
Hope, potential, promise fill the air, a game has yet to be lost.
A long, blissful summer awaits. There will be highlights and losing streaks, rainouts and glorious days you’ll hope will not end. For now, the joy is in simply taking the field again.
As Ernie Banks always says, “It’s a great day to play two!”
– Mark L. Lucker