BASEBALL IN AMERICA…IT’S GO TIME!!!

Baseball’s post season gets under way today. In eight cities across the country, fans are getting revved up for what they have been anxiously awaiting since last spring for, step one toward bringing home the World Series Championship! After watching the Ken Burns “Baseball in America” sequel on PBS, “The 10th Inning”, one can only come away with the fact that baseball IS America’s game, or pastime for you older readers!

Baseball is the only sport where people make historical recollections based on events in baseball. The game evokes memories of youth, family, and the past like no other sport. Every Dad’s dream for the past century is that their son be a star baseball player. It seems almost every boy in America for the past century has dreamed of being a baseball player. Why, because it IS America’s game. It is a sport that ties families together like no other. Baseball is so rich in history and tradition. I’m a baby boomer, I grew up collecting baseball cards, playing in several different levels of baseball from organized to one on one wiffle ball games in my best friend Roger Tweed’s front yard, to finishing my long career on the softball diamonds of Northern Virginia. Yes, though never a star, I fulfilled my father’s dream of a baseball playing son. Both of my brothers were into baseball as well. My brother Chris, a natural athlete in his younger days, had the best illegal curveball in the Alexandria Minnesota little leagues. He was also a feared hitter and good fielder with a very strong arm. He once nailed me in the back with a snow ball that hit me so hard it blew the wind right out of my lungs. After recovering, of course I told Dad what he did, and Dad promptly smacked the crap out of him. I think I was in the other room quietly laughing. My oldest brother Tom, had the longest career as a baseball player. He was a star on the little league diamonds in Alexandria, once dueling Alexandria’s biggest star athlete, Jim Alphors(sp), into many extra innings and even into the next day before finally surrendering a run and losing the game. Dad had his work cut out soothing Tom’s bruised feelings and ego after that crushing loss. Tom went on to play organized ball through high school, then picked up on the dusty softball fields of Washington DC for a couple of decades of starring for one of the Department of Labor’s longest lasting teams, the Mavericks. Yes, my father had all three of his sons playing America’s game, and he was very proud of that. My folks used to come to some of my softball games in Arlington Virginia to watch their youngest son playing a boy’s game. I was considered one of the most feared power hitters of our leagues in Northern Virginia, and it really gave me a rush to go yard with Mom and Dad in the stands! By the way, my Mom played organized baseball as a girl in Worthington Minnesota, the first girl to play baseball with the boys. She was also the “batboy” for the old Minneapolis Millers AAA minor league team. After the folks were married and settled in Alexandria, Ma played fast pitch softball for many years, to close out her diamond career! Only sister Gretchen didn’t catch baseball fever in our family. Sadly, my son Michael, though we tried for a couple years, never picked up the old leather nor did Chris’ son Nicholas. Chris tried in vain to get Nick into it but, to no avail! The Obert family baseball tradition may be over, although a new boy has just come into our family, Chris’ grandson Ryan was just born, sooooo, maybe….

Growing up in Arlington Virginia, Roger Tweed and I couldn’t get enough baseball, though neither us starred at it, we loved it. During the 1960’s, NBC televised the Major League Game of the Week every Saturday. This is where Rog and I became huge Red Sox haters. It seemed because Curt Gowdy as the play-by-play guy was a Red Sox fan, how many times did we have to hear about how great Dom DiMaggio played balls of the famed “green monster” wall in left field at Fenway, he influenced NBC to carry the Bosox seemingly every other Saturday! Yuch! Every time Rog and I got together we had our gloves and a ball. We played catch almost non-stop twenty years! One time, on a layover at Chicago’s Midway Airport, we took our gloves and ball and played catch first on the tarmac itself and then out on the parking lot. Many years later, when Rog came to visit us in Minnesota, I had the doctor shoot my right shoulder with cortisone so I would be ready for catch when Rog arrived. I have had a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder for many years, and now my left one has a tear as well! I live in constant pain! One time, on one of Rog’s visits to Minnesota, my brother Tom, Rog, and I went to a baseball field and hit grouders to each other, fungoed flies and generally just worked on our baseball skills, though by then we playing slow pitch softball. But, the dream burns on in us forever!

When in junior high school in Arlington, Rog and I used to ride the DC Transit busses to DC Stadium to watch Washington Senator baseball. One of those summers, we actually went to over thirty games! Get this though, we were in junior high school, and our parents let us ride the transit busses from “lilly-white” upper class north Arlington to Southeast DC, one of the most crime ravaged urban areas in the country! Wow, that’s what you call the love of baseball. Not to mention, of course, the Senators pretty much sucked! When the “Splendid Splinter” Ted Williams came in to manage the Nats, they did actually get somewhat competitive for a year, I can’t remember exactly what year, maybe ’67 or ’68. Remember the 1967 All Star game? It went 15 innings, lasted well into the night to finally end with a Tony Perez home run. I think that was the latest I had ever stayed up in my life, after one in the morning! I saw every pitch though.

So now my beloved Minnesota Twins are going to try to make my 2010 fantasy come true. Winning the World Series in the first year in their new stadium would be a dream come true. This team is so special because it has been a real team effort this whole season. Every game a different player steps up to make it happen. They do have some front line major league stars, but every guy on this team contributes. Being a baseball purist as well as a died in the wool Twins fans, I’m considering getting a Twins logo tattoo, I did not agree with the way Manager Ron Gardenhire managed this team after clinching the division crown. I think he lost focus and therefore the team did as well, especially the pitchers. You know the old saying; “the speed of the troops is the speed of the leader”. fortunately, the Yankees are limping into the playoffs as a loser of 14 of their last 22 games. I firmly agree with the great baseball mind and manager Billy Martin, when his motto was always come into the post season on a winning streak. Your team must be honed energized and ready to know how to wins games. Resting front line players and using minor leaguers not only brings the team into the playoffs rusty, but it screws the fans that want to see major leaguers play, After all, they pay the salaries. Spring training games and teams out of the playoff hunt are when the minor leaguers should be playing on major league fields! So I will start my ranting and yelling at the TV tonight. My family will go to other parts of the house to avoid my emotional outbursts. This will last until the final out of the 2010 World Series. No other sport can get my emotions this fired up. I love baseball and I really love the Twins. I can’t wait.

What other sport in America can claim the mantle of generations being able to quote historical sports statistics like baseball. Everyone older than about 450years of age can tell you the meaning of 714, 756, DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, the last major leaguer to hit .400, Ted Williams hit .406 and actually played both games of a season ending double-header. Nowadays, the skipper would rest the player to preserve the stat! Many people still remember Don Larson’s gem in the ’56 Series, I remember when Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hit number 715 off of Al Downing. The best season ever, in my opinion, for a starter, was Bob Gibson in 1968 with the Cardinals. He was 22 and seven with an era of just 1.12! Unheard of! He also had about 30 complete games that year. Oh, how I miss the horses on the starting rotations. What other sport can evoke memories of statistics, even from days gone by? Memorable Twins feats include Bob Allison’s great sliding catch in left field in the ’65 Series, Harmon Killebrews great MVP year in ’69, Rod Carew’s .388 batting average, Tony Oliva’s great natural talents as a hitter and fielder, cannon arm in right, only rivaled by the great Roberto Clemente’s arm. Yes, I love the Twins. I have a passion for baseball and the Twins probably the same as all baseball fans have. I’ll close with an old MLB marketing message; “Baseball fever, catch it!”
Thanks for today’s meandering read, and I look forward to your thoughts and comments about this important time of the year in America.
Cam Obert

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One Response to “BASEBALL IN AMERICA…IT’S GO TIME!!!”

  1. Spot Says:

    “Baseball is the only sport where people make historical recollections based on events in baseball.”

    This is absolutely true. Nobody says, “I can remember when the Grange Hall burned down; it was the year the Vikings lost the Super Bowl that third time.” No other sport is woven into the fabric of the U.S. the way baseball is.

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