Archive for the ‘Field of Dreams’ Category

Father’s Day and Baseball

June 16, 2013

Hello, Friends.

Happy Father’s Day. Today I am going to go completely off topic. While having my morning coffee this morning I turned on the television and discovered one of my favorite movies of all time was on: Field of Dreams.

I grew up in a very tiny town…and we have one thing – Baseball. It was the one constant of my life and it has always been a constant. At the end of the movie I found myself crying – I just couldn’t help it. It always makes me a little moody.

Towards the end of the film there is a speech given by Terence Mann (James Earl Jones’ character) about baseball being the constant. He says that people will come and the memories will be so thick that they will have to wipe them away like cobwebs. The memories flood me during that speech like water flowing down hill. I just can’t help it.

My Grandfather was quite old when I was born. My father’s brothers are all WWII Veterans but my father is a Cuban Missle Crisis Veteran. Quite an age gap! By the time I came along my Grandparents were retired and living across the alley where they had lived for decades. By the time I was 12 – they had passed on.

I loved my grandparents so very much! Grandpa was a WWI Vet and Grandma was a housewife. They were perfect grandparents! There was never much to do in a town of 99 people – but in the summer there was always baseball. We have a perfect and beautiful baseball field. There is a grandstand, concrete dugouts with wood stands over them, bleachers and a wall full of painted advertisments. Many of them have been the same since I was a child. They just keep repainting them. We even have lights! On the 4th of July there were always fireworks! Over the years they have gotten better and better. The American Legion Post that my father belongs to always starts the 4th of July games by marching out to the middle of the field, the National Anthem and the flag is raised above the old scoreboard. It used to be a manual scoreboard – but a member of the community left money in his will that bought an electronic modern board. My children have gone to the games since they were little with their grandfather…just like I went with mine.

I can still see us sitting there. We are in the grandstand to the left of home plate on the bottom bleacher. Grandpa couldn’t climb bleachers anymore…so we sat right there. I am head to toe dirt and dust. My barefeet are slapping their heels against the green wood plank behind me. I have a bag of popcorn on my lap and a cup of RC Cola at my side. I can still smell the sugary sweet smell of spilled soda and the sent of stale beer that lingers in the air. The flies buzzing around licking up the last little bit of soda on the cement. I am wearing shorts and a town team shirt – a ST. Louis Cardinal hat. The early evening breeze is cool and refreshing. The corn behind the back wall is tall and the breeze is blowing through it is like a whisper. Grandpa is clapping and he ruffles my hat with a narled hand – he is smiling.

At that place, my Grandfather is still alive. There is innocence and there is light and warmth. Pain is a scrapped knee or a stubbed toe. I still have the dream that I could grow up and be a baseball player. I always wanted to be a baseball player. I wanted to play shortstop for the ST. Louis Cardinals. This was before I knew that girls don’t play baseball.

I did play baseball there – one season. I never really got to play. I practiced everyday. It was 4 miles to play softball – but baseball was right there. I was the only girl on the team. I played right field for one half of one inning. That was it. I was 8 years old. The next year – I made the trip to play softball. The boys didn’t want a girl on the team.

There are parts of the movie that you can only truly understand if baseball has been a part of your life. The smell of your glove in the afternoon heat, the glare of the sun, the buzz of the lights at night. The heat that comes from the grass even after the sun has gone down for the day. The oily feel of the grass under your barefeet. The locusts in the corn making their songs. The way the ball feels when it impacts your glove at a high rate of speed. The tingle in your body as the bat makes contact. The dry feel of the dirt when you slide into a base. The smell of the dugout! Sweat and chewing tobacco, leather and pine tar. The whine of the infield gate and the slam of old wood when it closed behind you.

I guess the place that the film really gets me is in the passage of time. My children are grown…the pictures of them at the ball field with their grandparents are slowly getting to be less and less. Even their grandma sometimes makes the trip to the ball game – even though she knows nothing about baseball and likes to talk through the whole game! I admit…it drives me nuts!! It drives my daddy and my husband nuts!! However, we do our best to keep an ear on her and our eyes on the ball. She has never understood baseball.

One day – my father will be gone…and that scares the hell out of me! My dad has mentioned that he remembers me sitting with his father – how short a time it seems…but how it is a lifetime. His lifetime, my lifetime…my children’s lifetime. Someday I will sit there with my grandchildren…and I pray that they will sit there with their children.

It is the constant. The peace and tranquility. Win – Lose…doesn’t matter. It is about the game and the ghosts that sit on the bleachers with us. The spirits that surround us – enfold us – love us.

I hope there is baseball in heaven. There are so many people I want to sit with again…drink an RC Cola and eat a bag of popcorn with. Argue an umps call – smell the leather – taste the dust…and know that it will never, ever end. The sunlight always warm on your face.

Peace and Blessings on this Father’s Day. I love you daddy…I miss you grandpa…I hope you are saving me a seat on the left side of the grandstand.

Joan

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