Play Ball!

The great sage of the baseball diamond, Yogi Berra, once said, “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”

So there you have it… everything you need to know in life you can learn playing baseball. But like life itself, it takes a lot to do it well. Berra added more to our storehouse of wisdom by clarifying the game’s challenges. “Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

OK, so maybe a few of baseball’s most famous oldtimers weren’t brainiacs back in the good old days. Even the legendary Joe DiMaggio once admitted, “I can remember a reporter asking me for a quote, and I didn’t know what a quote was. I thought it was some kind of soft drink.”

Today, some of MLB’s (Major League Baseball’s) biggest names might actually score a little higher in the IQ department. After all, colleges and universities spend millions to make millions on sports. Big league recruiters today simply can’t help nabbing some players with a few more degrees than a thermometer.

But for my money, that’s not what baseball is about. I’ll go back to Joe DiMaggio to make my point. He once told a sports writer, “When baseball is no longer fun, it is no longer a game.”

A few of my favorite things about baseball:

  1. There is no clock. The game’s leisurely pace on a long summer afternoon encourages easy-going relaxation like no other sport. The game itself decides when it wants to end. It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.
  2. Baseball is a game of subtle strategy, a chess match between pitcher, catcher and batter, opposing managers and umpires. There’s always a game within the game. Jocks are actually pretty smart, if not all necessarily geniuses, and few other sports showcase so much sharp-eyed strategy on both offense and defense, in every position, with every pitch.
  3. And…sorry guys, I’ll probably have my “Testosterone Club” card revoked for this one… no cheerleaders. Somehow, it just feels more like a baseball game that way.
  4. Bubba Grape. Mascot extraordinaire. Go Jammers.

And we have it all right here. I don’t think, at its best, baseball is a game for a living room. “Take me out to the ball game,” the song says. Whether it’s “peanuts and Cracker Jacks” or “soda & pretzels & beer”, there’s something about a stadium, a great, noisy crowd and blue sky overhead that turns it all into something more than a game.

This week, The Jamestown Gazette invites everybody out to Russell Diethrick Park at 7:05 p.m., June 1, for opening night of the Jamestown Jammers’ 2017 season. Let’s make it a great game for our team. After all, in baseball – and here it is like just about every other sport – the fans in the seats become that indispensable “one more man” on the field.

Our team, the Jamestown Jammers, as Cortney tells us on page 1 this week, brings back a handful of last year’s all-stars and a full roster of the nation’s best college players from all across the country. These are young men who play the game at the highest level. Look around the stands on opening night and you will probably see MLB scouts taking names and recording stats. The major leagues come here to get ready for next year’s draft.

But best of all, they play serious baseball and they also play for the fun of a real good game. DiMaggio would be proud.

Enjoy the game down at the Diethrick Baseball Park, and as always, enjoy the read right here in your Jamestown Gazette.

Walt Pickut