Friday, April 09, 2010

In Perspective - The Great Game is Back

By Rodney Hays

It's April and for sports fans that can only mean one thing: A golf tournament will actually feature Tiger Woods.
Also baseball season begins.
That's right, baseball season, the great American past time, begins this week after a three-week hiatus.
That's a joke. Baseball season actually ended in October. The Tiger Woods story is back from a three-week hiatus.

Another joke. The Tiger Woods story never takes a hiatus.
Wow, that's a lot of jokes in the first couple of sentences in my column. From here on out this column will contain mostly substance and less jokes.
Haha. Again, with the jokes.
The boys of the diamond have finally finished up spring training and are ready for the grueling 162-game season this week. Opening day is a special time in the life of baseball enthusiasts as many of them risk getting fired at work and call in sick so they can watch the game.
[Note to Editor: In spite of what you might have seen on television, this columnist was not at Opening Day. Unless of course attending Opening Day would have been considered "research" for this column, then yes, that was me.]
Baseball has a rich tradition here in America.
According to the Internet -- The Source of all Truth -- baseball was actually discovered by Columbus in 1492, although some modern historians actually say Abner Doubleday discovered the sport four years earlier in Wapanucka, Okla. Since that time, U.S. Americans have fallen hard for the sport.
The sport has seen many big-time stars that have captured our hearts, our minds and a great deal of our money through the years.
One of the first stars of baseball was Fernando Johnson from, oddly enough, Wapacnucka, Okla. After starting at second base, third base and nose tackle with the Fightin' Chieftains of Wapanucka Elementary School, Fernando went on to an illustrious career with the Racine Mud Ducks of the Southern League of Wisconsin or SLOW.
Fernando was the man who was first to hit a home run (named for a towering shot which caused most of his teammates to actually go home). During his rookie season he threw a no-hitter, hit the cycle, stole eight bases, including the controversial fourth base, and bought 15 hot dogs and a foam finger between innings. He was the true definition of a super star.
That was a long time ago. Now we are in the modern era of baseball or what some experts call by its more descriptive name: The Modern Era of Baseball.

Some well-known stars of modern baseball are: Nolan Ryan, Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Cal Ripken Jr. and Garth Brooks.
I fell in love with baseball when I was a kid because, like most kids, I played little league when I was younger.
My first season was in Pine Bluff, Ark. I was a first-grader and played tee-ball at the Boys Club. I played for the Hawks. I don't remember if I was any good or not, but I do remember our uniforms were T-shirts and Toughskins jeans (mine were gold, the jeans, not the T-shirt).
I also remember my coach. His name was Carroll and he was a high school student in Pine Bluff that wanted to help kids at the Boys Club. I don't know if he knew the difference between a hit-and-run and hide-and-seek, but I know he showed up at every practice and every game and my mom sometimes bought him a coke afterwards.
I wasn't really good at first, but when I got older, my game improved considerably to the point where many times I actually got into real-game situations, like pre-game warm-ups and the team photo.
Actually I didn't hit my stride in baseball until I was in high school where I became quite a baseball stud at Butner High School. It was at good Ol' BHS where I learned important baseball terminology like "Come on, Kid," and "Get a hit now, Kid," and "We need base runners now, Kid." I learned that every sentence in baseball ends with the word, "Kid."
But that's not all. I also learned that baseball is a team sport where kids learn sportsmanship and the importance of playing together and respect. I'm pretty sure kids still learn that today, not only from playing baseball but by watching their favorite players on TV. Or at least I hope they do.
Baseball has taken a few hits in recent years with the Steroids Scandal of 2003, the Should Pete Rose Get in the Hall of Fame Scandal of 2004 and the more recent I Can't Believe The Rangers Are Actually Favored To Win The Division Scandal of 2010.
I hope these scandals don't mar the true meaning of the sport: Money.
That's a joke.
I look forward to a good season of baseball this year. I hope kids everywhere will enjoy playing and watching baseball this season.

And if Garth Brooks has a good year, the Rangers might just be playing in October. It doesn't get any better than that.

To read more of Rodney Hays' humor, check out his blog at Follow him on Twitter at Also find him on Facebook.

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