If you read my last post about Pittsburgh, you already know my family’s main reason for visiting involved my mom’s sense of adventure and my dad’s desire to see Los Angeles Dodger victories against the Pittsburgh Pirates. From my previous posts about Petco Park in San Diego, California and my affinity for the underdog, you already know baseball has always been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Not only am I named after the Brooklyn Dodgers, but my dad has also written a book Legend for the Legendary: The Origin of the Baseball Hall of Fame about whether or not Abner Doubleday invented baseball, and my family has been proud visitors and members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Although there’s plenty going on in my life as I struggle to arrange housing for a fall internship in Chicago, watching the games at PNC Park reminds me of how baseball is always there to remind me to not give up hope and solutions will develop when I least expect it. At PNC Park, I begin to see that baseball is more than a game.
As the game begins, my dad eagerly tells me the latest Dodgers stats and relays additional information from his satellite radio. He informs me how the Dodgers acquired a weaker player during a trade. The reason for this is that the trade for a stronger player from another team could not be completed unless the Dodgers also took one of the team’s weaker players. As he eagerly discusses the situation, I know he’s telling me how the game becomes more complicated requiring management to make compromises. It’s not any different than when life hands you both good and bad circumstances. Nothing in life is perfect, but you manage your life the best you can—the same can be said of a baseball team.
My mom takes the meaning of strategy in baseball one step further by talking about the state of mind of baseball players. When Clayton Kershaw throws the first pitch, Gregory Polanco hits a home run and the stadium is buzzed full of energy and cheering. It’s clear Kershaw is shaken and doing his best to recuperate as the team does their best to back him up. Although my dad is the baseball strategist, my mom picks up just as much when she tells me baseball is a mental game as Kershaw struggles to shake off the home run from the first batter in the first inning. This is true of anything in life. What we do depends a great deal on our mental state, which is why during this time I’m ready to be enjoying Pittsburgh to take my mind off of finding a place to stay in Chicago.
My main reason for having an affinity for baseball is more than the strategy of the game. Baseball has been a teacher and a mentor for me, even if I no longer play. As my mom recalls my sister and I eating peanuts as young girls at other ballgames, my dad always remembers our start on the local T-ball team. The only girls on the team, we ran the bases the wrong way and were continually teased by the boys after our first day. To brighten our spirits, my dad took us to see the movie “A League of Their Own,” to show us the time in history when women were professional baseball players when men left to fight in World War II. After the movie my sister asked, “Is it true? Did girls really play baseball?”
“Yes, girls really did play baseball,” my dad responded.
“Is there really no crying in baseball?”
“Don’t believe that. Dodger fans cried for years. Cubs’ fans are still crying,” my dad reassured my sister.
Unfortunately for my family, the Dodgers loose every game as the Pirates sweep the series, and the no crying in baseball fails to follow through when my dad hangs his head while Pirates fans enthusiastically cheer.
Leaving PNC Park, it’s a sad end, but I feel hopeful when I think of all the stories my dad tells me about baseball and I think of the footstool in his office my mom covered with Dodger material. Disappointing as the losses may be, baseball reminds me there’s always hope. After all, it was Kirk Gibson who hit a home run while he was injured that won the Dodgers their first game in the 1988 World Series. Miracles are always possible. Within my time at Pittsburgh, I begin to think my internship for Chicago may not happen, until an unexpected offer for housing comes through. Just when I thought all I could do in was cry in frustration, it turns out there’s still hope after all. And that’s the thing about baseball. There’s always hope even when it seems all is lost. Just ask Boston Red Sox fans.