Baseball season is upon us again.
Yawwwn … am I right?
As a young sportswriter, that was my initial response. In fact, at my first newspaper, we really didn’t cover too many baseball games. It was the result of a small staff covering dozens of schools and with several spring sports in action.
Then I was hired as sports editor (read: entire sports staff) for a small daily newspaper in Brenham, Texas. I was taking the place of Carlos Deere, who had held the position for 14 (or was it 17) years.
This is part of a series of memories, as explained here.
While he was showing me around, Carlos asked if I liked baseball.
“I like playing, but I don’t really enjoy watching it,” I said.
“That will change if you work here,” he predicted.
The thing was that Brenham was a huge baseball town. They expected their high school Cubs to be competitive. The town closely followed the Little League all-star teams that aimed to reach the World Series, as a team did just a few years prior. There was also Blinn College, which fielded strong teams. Finally, the men’s slow pitch and fast pitch softball leagues were important to the town.
Carlos was right. My opinion changed.
Key to the conversion was keeping a detailed scorebook. I developed my own little habits and notations such that I could go back and pretty much rebuild an entire game, pitch by pitch.
In order to do that, I had to pay attention the entire time, even between pitches. Eventually, one figures out something is always going on in a baseball game, even if it’s just scheming and posturing. In other words, it’s far from boring.
I never became a master of baseball and I’ve certainly not memorized the endless statistics that give the sport life, but I greatly enjoy watching it now, even 45 years later.