A summer dream

Baseball connects us to our past and gives us hope for the future

Kyle Morrison, Sports Editor

Illustration by Blue Jones 

Baseball is the best sport – this is obviously a very debatable statement coming from a very biased source. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most people reading this article would probably scoff at this statement. After all, America’s great pastime is not as fashionable as it once was decades ago. With lower attention spans, the need for instant gratification and MLB’s uncanny ability to shoot themselves in the foot, baseball has gone from the king of the sports world to merely just a piece of the huge menu of sports options Americans consume.

But baseball has certain aspects to it that other sports just do not: history, community, parody, accessibility and familiarity. 

The first year baseball crowned a champion was in 1884, when the Providence Grays beat the New York Metropolitans three games to zero. While it was not called the World Series at the time, this is considered the first recognized baseball championship. The first World Series as we know it today happened in 1903 when the Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three. No professional American sport has any history that even comes close to the age of baseball. 

Baseball has always been a major partner in American history. It was the only modern sport played by Civil War soldiers, who used to split up by platoons and play each other in giant fields between battles. It was the only sport present for World War I. It was the first professional sport to integrate when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

Baseball was king during World War II and made big headlines when stars like Ted Williams, debatably the greatest hitter of all time, left MLB to become a fighter pilot in the war effort. In fact, baseball completely paused during World War II; in the men’s stead, women created their own league to try and fill the baseball gap, paving the way for professional women’s sports across the country. 

The sport shut down for a week after 9/11, leading to iconic American moments like Mike Piazza’s home run in the first game back in New York after the tragedy. President George Bush’s first pitch at the 2001 World Series in Yankee Stadium is still considered an all-time moment in the American lexicon. Baseball was also the first sport to come back after the months-long COVID hiatus professional sports took in 2020. 

Baseball is intrinsically American, for better or for worse. It has been a partner to history in so many incredible ways and a source of community to so many generations of people in this country. The sport brings people together in ways other sports cannot. It is played every day, making players on local baseball teams seem relatable and familial. When a team becomes successful, it becomes an everyday rallying cry for towns across America. Just look at how the Mariner’s 21-year drought-ending playoff run this year brought together the city of Seattle. 

Part of baseball’s uniting appeal is its relatable accessibility. One does not have to be 6 feet 5 inches or overly buff to be a baseball player. Some of baseball’s best are normal-looking guys. Jose Altuve, the best player on the best team in baseball, is 5 feet 4 inches. You can be anyone and be a star in baseball. This is just not true in any other major American sport.  

Most of all, baseball is a game of poetic familiarity. In the words of the great Ken Burns, “It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn. It is a haunted game in which every player is measured against the ghosts of all who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness. Speed and grace. Failure and loss. Imperishable hope. And coming home.”

I grew up in a middle-class family. We never worried about money too much, but I definitely could not afford to do some things my rich Bay Area friends could do. It was always a financial burden to go to basketball or football games, but baseball was always an option. My greatest memories from early childhood are of going to games with my dad, sitting in the cheapest seats we could find and just enjoying the romantic passing of summer days. 

Baseball is a marker of time. It is something that can be counted on. I know that no matter how hard life gets, when springtime comes around, baseball and all the sweet memories that come with it will be back, giving me hope for the future. I look forward to teaching my kids the game just as my dad has taught me and his dad taught him. Through baseball, there is a loving connection and hope for a better future.

As the great poet Donald Hall once said, “Baseball, because of its sense of continuity over the space of America and the time of America, this is a place that memory gathers, it is a place that we can return to, and it is a place that we can even imagine existing in the future. I think we have some hope that baseball may look like baseball a hundred years from now.”