"Batter UP!"

Baseball is Summer.

Other sports have their seasons, but not with a capital S. From spring’s budding warmth until the first early frosts of autumn, we’re united by loyalties and rivalries alike. It’s the Yankees-Red Sox, Cards-Cubs, Dodgers-Giants, all the way from the majors to the minors to the littlest leagues.

Instead of courts and courses and gridirons, baseball’s stage is a beautifully cut diamond, where it’s OK to steal bases and signs, spectators juggle foul ball souvenirs like hot potatoes, and a rhubarb can break out at any time.

No other sport has the sounds and smells of baseball, either. Decades removed from playing, I can easily recall metal cleats chattering across cement steps, the pop of a fastball hitting a catcher’s mitt, and the aromas of burgers and hot dogs drifting from the stands to join the scent of new-mown infield grass.

My first glove was a Wilson that had already led an interesting life with my father and uncle when I inherited it. It dwarfed my young hand and was replaced by a more efficient (and stylish) Rawlings. Although I used the new mitt for several years, it never developed the character of that lumpy hand-me-down.

“HUM Babe!”


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