Honey's Huddle

Romance and the "Boys of Summer"

Boys of Summer in Training

It was in 1972 when the book by Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer, went to print. Best I can tell, this is where the endearing nickname for baseball players originated. Sports fans have affectionately referred to baseball as “America’s Favorite Pastime” for decades. For the life of me, I couldn’t trace exactly when or how this lofty title was originally bestowed – but is it still fair to say this about the game?

Numbers don’t lie. The competition for television sports viewers is won hands-down by NFL Football. Grant Eckert, from ClassBrain.com reports: “The NFL brings in about 2.2 billion dollars a year in revenues from television. The MLB earns about 340 million.”

But I seem to encounter so many die-hard baseball fans – and specifically lady fans – who love the game. I pondered, “What is it people love so much about baseball?” I know one thing the ladies love, but there’s gotta be more to it than hunky mancandy, right?

My sister-in-law Melissa, who is an avid Red Sox fan, is a good example. “Last Monday, I went to my first game of the season and the feeling of walking into Fenway and sitting in the greatest ballpark in the world never gets old. Love it!” She said “There is nothing like a nice summer night at Fenway Park.”

So,  I decided to interview two of my favorite gal pals who have been singing the praises of the game for years- my mother and my grandmother. Both are life-long fans. My mom’s favorite Mother’s Day gift from me: tickets to a Colorado Rockie’s home game.

She said, “Baseball is one of few sports that can rightly use the phrase ‘in the modern era’ and mean in the past 100 years!”

She talked about the smells of the game – the fresh cut grass, hot dogs, clean air and sun tan oil.  She talked about the sounds of the game – the crack of the bat, the satisfying thump of the ball against the leather glove, the roar of the crowd and even the hokey organ music.

To sum up, she said, “It’s just so American, so real and so uniquely baseball.”

Hearing my mom’s thoughts made me remember the movie Field of Dreams from 1989. Especially the scene when Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) gives his incredibly inspiring “pep talk”. My mom could’ve written that.

I asked her, “What do you love most about the game, Mom?” Her answer brought tears to my eyes.

“Because opening day sends me back to my 6-year-old self, scrambling over wooden bleachers on a warm summer night, with a bag of salted peanuts – and yes, Cracker Jax – in one hand and a sweating, cold bottle of Coke in the other, eyes wide and senses tingling for the first pitch. That annual trip back in time feels like a visit from an old and trusted friend.  And reminds why I still love the game.”

It all made sense to me then – her passion for the game, people’s passion for the game.  Baseball is romantic. It is tradition. It is nostalgia. It belongs in the history of Americana in a way that nothing else probably ever will.

Speaking of romance, Hollywood has certainly done its part in fanning the flames of passion for this game over the years. This is a great list of “best ever” baseball flicks if you’re ready to fall in love.

So, back to tradition; my 85-year-old grandmother – most often known as “Nanny” – has her own opinions and passions for the game. When I called to ask her about her love of the game, she was pretty surprised at the question. After some consideration, though, she was pretty candid.

She said, “There’s something refreshing to an 85-year-old woman to watch those young, energetic men going all out to win. I love their enthusiasm.”

Nanny speculated that part of what people look forward to about baseball is the beautiful season it kicks-off, the soft summer breezes, a reprieve from the winter, new growth and new life.“People want to get out and stretch, and play, and have competitive fun,” she mused.

And make no mistake, Nanny still appreciates the men who play this game from a woman’s eye, too. “They are so manly,” she said. “I like the way it brings out their testosterone. If you’re a woman, how could you not like that?”

Bottom line, she says, “It depends on your taste, Honey, but if they can hit the ball, they’ve got me!”

Out of this little project, I have inherited a deeper appreciation for this game and a deeper love for two very important women in my life. Seems like that could be a pretty great movie right there!

I’m going to get to the ballpark just as soon as I can, order a hot dog, get me some Cracker Jax, and make my mom proud yelling at the top of my voice, “Hey batter, batter, batter… SWING!”

Mom's View of the Colorado Rockie's Game, Coors Field, Denver, CO

Images from MLB.com, and Mom’s Phone Camera

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachel.callihan Rachel Callihan

    amen girl. I myself am one of those women that is simply in love with the game. I get so excited in March every year because I know spring training will start soon and I can be back to the ballpark in no time. I love that each game is like a new start. you don’t win today but there’s always tomorrow. I wasn’t raised on the game on the game like some but it’s definitely something that my children will grow up with so that like your mom, when they are older they can look back at that time in their childhood with a sense of magic and excitement each time they visit the ballpark on a hot day in June.

    • Anonymous

      In June of 1976. the Red Sox were playing the A’s in Oakland when Charley Finley sold Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi and two other plesaryto them.Fingers and Rudi packed up and went over to the visitor’s clubhouse.They actually spent three days in uniform, but were never used in a game despite their eligibility.At that point, the commissioner vetoed the transaction in the best interests of baseball and returned the duo to the A’s before theirflight out of town.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398873262 Laura DeVries

    Ah, you got it all right, my beautiful girl. Well done, as usual. xoxoxo mom

  • http://www.facebook.com/araymond23 Amanda Raymond

    Baseball is absolutely romantic. I remember being a little girl and my Dad taking me to Busch stadium a couple of times a year. Those games started the endless love I have for this sport. There is nothing like going to a game with the sun beating down on your skin, having a beer and nachos, bonding with friends and strangers alike, the fireworks and cheers, the boos and the wave. There is so much that makes this game so magical!

  • http://www.facebook.com/corey.podell Corey Podell

    this article made me think of my favorite baseball/love movie ever – For the Love of the Game with Kevin Costner & Kelly Preston

  • http://www.facebook.com/YankeesGirl2 Sarah Williams

    I totally love baseball. It is deep down probably my greatest love ever (sorry to the man i meet one day, you’ll always be 2nd). The sounds, smells, the players, the competition, the pace of the game is so relaxing that you can just sit back and enjoy. The crowds are always amazing. I’m a die hard Yankees fan living on the west coast. I get up to Seattle as much as possible for a game. I by no means hardly care for that team, but baseball is more about your favorite team, its about the experience and atmosphere. Even on TV you can catch glimpses of how amazing it is to be there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.saenz.92 Richard Saenz

    Good Job Heather. You gotta love baseball and great baseball movies like “The Natural” and “Major League” of course.

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