Flooded field of memories
Hope you watched the White Sox play the Yankees next to the Field of Dreams in the middle of Iowa cornfields Thursday evening 08-12-21. Worth it just to see the players emerge from the corn surrounding the outfield. No Shoeless Joe Jackson but the same reverence for the game of Base Ball. (Pronounced in two separate and distinct words like James Earl Jones in the movie. That’s how it was printed in the early days.)
→ Bonus: Not one player took a knee during the National Anthem last night! (Or was shown doing so.)
The field was built not far from the more modest original movie field. Played catch with Number One Son there years ago. Yeah, it was magic.
Baseball, seems to this old guy, is a rural sport at its heart. Growing up, we farm kids scrambled out of the school bus and convened at a designated farm field for a little baseball. Softball, actually. An alfalfa field at Cousin John’s teetered on a steep hillside. On the Statz farm, hogs cowered in the corner of the pen until they decided to investigate the proceedings. Only on that field did we slide into the bases — first base, included.
Our season was too short: the few nice days in March and early April before the farm fields required our labor. We call them “baseball clubs” today because that is how the major leagues began in the latter half of the 19th Century: membership clubs for affluent gents with leisure time.
Greatest baseball play evah!
At Sacred Hearts parochial grade school in Sun Prairie, we older kids played on the blacktopped church parking lot. It was graded on two levels, banking down to the school building. From the batters box one could see only the heads of the outfielders on that lower level. One of us hit a high fly ball to the outfield. A nerdy, decidedly unathletic kid named George threw his glove up in the air. The ball smacked into it and George caught the glove with the ball in it on the way down. George was a hero ever after. Catholics believe in miracles; we had just seen one.
Speaking of the Brewers, who could have guessed they would have the second-best record in the National League with minimal contributions from Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain?
Another national treasure: Bob Uecker. Got a T-shirt from young guys down the row after accepting their dare to chug beer from a container the size of a large popcorn bucket. That was at old County Stadium. The T-shirt reads “Uecker’s Pukers. We’re not Leavin’ till we’re Heavin’. Caught a foul ball in one of those buckets of beer. (Cushioned the impact.) Can’t get those beer buckets anymore. Major League Baseball should stop pricing itself out of family fun. And quit renaming ball parks! Tradition!
Did Ken Burns ever make a PBS series on soccer? No, he did not!
It is a national loss that too many kids grow up today never playing baseball. Or any sport. (The City of Madison took down the baseball backstop at Orchard Ridge park last summer.)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: If you’ve never, pull over on a country road and smell the growing corn. It’s a sweet and honest smell. Like neatsfoot oil on a well-worn baseball glove. Hooray for the Home Talent baseball league! Must see a Madison Mallards game this summer.