I grew up to the sound of Tom Hamilton exclaiming his praises for the team at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Some of my earliest memories were helping my dad in the garden or pulling weeds while cheering on the Tribe on the radio.
If we weren’t on the couch with a glass of chocolate milk and barbeque chips watching the game on TV, we were listening to it.
Hearing the sound of John Adams’ drum beats and “swiiiiiing and a miss” became a sort of lullaby to me, where I often didn’t even acknowledge the individual pitches anymore but was comforted by the sheer sound of the game.
I remember my sister and I playing baseball with a Wiffle ball and a plastic bat back when I was a preschooler. One of my earliest painful memories was walking in front of her swing and getting knocked down by that plastic yellow bat.
It was a lesson that I didn’t soon forget.
My dad used to let me use his old softball glove when he threw pitches to me. The glove was always too big, but I felt like such a pro with it on.
I loved playing catch with my dad, and he always let me catch a few breaks just so that I could feel like I had caught the last out to win the World Series.
Fast forward to college life, where my boyfriend and I would sport our best Cleveland fan gear and listen to the games in his room while indulging in Toft’s ice cream.
We would map out when we could head home to Cleveland to catch a game and settled for a few Mud Hens games to hold us over. We would spend our summer nights playing catch on Centennial Mall, and I winded down the summer season by watching him play intramural softball at Scott Park.
Baseball has always been a part of each stage of my life, and the sport has taught me much more than how to call a ball from a strike.
The game taught me that sometimes you need to take a lap and run the bases. It taught me that sometimes you strikeout and sometimes you get a walk.
Regardless, you show up for your next at-bat with a clean 0-0 slate.
The game taught me that sometimes you have to take a risk and steal a base because the reward can be so great if you put yourself out there.
The game taught me that you can’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing. If that was the case, you’d be absent from so much of what life has to offer.
It taught me that life can throw you curveballs and sometimes they can hit you, but your reaction and resilience can be a game changer.
The game taught me that you can’t spend your time hiding in the outfield because that ball is going to come at you fast and you better be ready for it.
Baseball might be “America’s Pastime,” but, for me, it has shaped so much of who I am. I will always be grateful for the sound of a great ballgame. Until the spring…