Each morning, rain or shine, I go out for a walk. The time of my walk more or less follows sunrise throughout the year, with me getting out shortly after the first light appears in the east, but before the sun peeks above the horizon. My walk takes me through the park behind our house, and about a mile-and-half later, to a nearby 7-Eleven. The total walk is about 2-1/2 miles and takes me about 40 minutes on average.
I usually listen to a book while I walk. I see the same people out, wave, and occasionally stop to chat with someone. The mornings are quiet. Depending on the time of year, I see different local fauna. Lots of deer this time of year. And the bats are finally out, scooping up mouthfuls of mosquitoes and other insects as they dive and weave about the treetops.
Walking home from school yesterday with the Littlest Miss, with waves of hit visibly rising from the sidewalk, she said to me, “Is ‘cool’ a pun?”
“I guess it could be, depending on the context,” I said, “but it is really a word with two completely different meanings.” So is “bat.”
I haven’t watched a baseball game all season, my mild protest against what I feel is the sacrilege of allowing a clock into the game in an attempt to speed things up. I miss watching baseball games, but I don’t realize I miss them unless there is something that forces memories of how great the game is into my head. I’m sure that I will come around. I’ve changed my mind on many things over the years. I used to think I could never listen to an audiobook, for instance. I’m sure I’ll see that a pitch clock is good for the game, but I am a baseball purist, who still believes that the designated hitter rule was a mistake.
I do miss baseball, but until my morning walk this morning, I’d forgotten just how much.
On most days, over the course of my 40 minute morning walk, I am quiet. I listen to my book and walk, and watch what is happening around me, allowing myself to wake up. Once in a while, something in the book I’m listening to might make me smile, or even chuckle. When this happens, I always look to see if anyone is around. I imagine it must look pretty amusing to see someone laughing to themselves while they walk.
This morning was different.
I was listening to Joe Posnanski’s new book, Why We Love Baseball. I became a die-hard Joe Posnanski fan after reading his book The Baseball 100 in the fall of 2021. It was my favorite book of 2021. So I’ve been really looking forward to this new book. I started reading it yesterday and continued when I headed out for my walk this morning.
You can tell, from Posnanski’s enthusiasm for the game, that the game is magic to him, and that alone reminded me how the game is magic to me as well. But Posnanski’s writing, his storytelling, is also magic. His writing controls your emotions. On the outbound walk, listening to stories of why we love baseball, I found myself on the verge of tears several times. (There may have been one or two that managed to escape and find their way to the pavement.)
Scattered throughout the book are “5 moments” of various types, sidebars to the the 50 moments Posnanski goes through in detail. On my return walk, one these sidebars was titled “5 meltdown.” Listening to these stories made the first half of my walk home more a stagger. I was not chuckling. I was laughing. Out loud. I had to move off the bike path and wipe tears from my eyes several times. If someone saw me walking on the bike path this morning, they may very well have thought I’d lost it.
Tears. Laughter. Smiles. Thrills. Humor. Surprise. This is why I love baseball. Joe Posnanski has reminded me of this, and I am grateful. More than that, Joe has done what many great writers struggle to do. He brought all of these emotions out in me with his words. While I was walking. In public. For other people to see.
And sometime this weekend, I’m finally going to set aside 2-1/2 hours (down from just over 3 hours from last year) to watch a ballgame.
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