Friday, April 19, 2013

My Quest to Love Baseball

Frank is a huge baseball fan. It's his number one conversation topic with his friends, his favorite childhood memories all involve the Phillies, and he has multiple fantasy baseball teams a year.

Pretty early on he realized this was not the case for me. While I enjoy a trip to the old ball game and snacking on stadium food as much as the next person, for most of our relationship I really had no clue how baseball worked.

Although I was more than happy to take pictures in front of bobblehead-doll baseball players.
Recently Frank mentioned that one of his friends, whose wife loves baseball, had taken his wife to their team's opening day game and posted Facebook pictures of themselves in matching jerseys. That set the wheels turning in my mind. A shared interest in baseball brought that couple closer together. Why shouldn't the same be true for Frank and me?

Tickets to the Marlins game, a generous gift from my uncle
But I didn't decide to actually learn about baseball until a few days later, when Frank and I were talking about dancing. Dancing is to me what baseball is to Frank: I love it, while Frank tolerates it in small doses. I'm hoping to take dance lessons with him at some point, and I commented that he would probably like dancing if he had more practice. "You can learn anything you put your mind to," I said.

As those words left my mouth, I realized they applied to me and baseball just as much as to him and dancing. Why shouldn't I learn more about his interests, after all? Especially if I was asking him to learn more about mine.

So I made up my mind to learn about baseball. And not just to learn about it—to love it. I remembered  a line from one of my favorite books, A Severe Mercy. The couple agrees that "If one of us likes anything, there must be something to like in it—and the other one must find it." If Frank loves baseball, there must be something to love about it!

I started off pretty slow—as Frank said the other night, his voice a mixture of shock and horror, "I didn't realize you didn't even know the difference between a ball and a strike." True. I also didn't know the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game, or the purpose of a shortstop, or what RBIs or ERAs are, or how many games are in a World Series, or what the designated hitter rule is. But I've learned all those things in just the past week.

I started by asking for advice from all my friends who like baseball. They've been so helpful. My roommate Heather lent me an awesome book comparing baseball to Christianity, the lovely JoAnna explained that baseball is philosophical and suggested using a scorecard to understand the games, and Patrick constructed a miniature baseball diamond of plates and napkins on my dining room table. Conor laughed at me: "Only you would try to learn baseball by reading a book, Tess." But then he talked to me about Bill Mazeroski and the ninth-inning walk-off in the 1960 World Series, and my mind expanded. I'm trying to take it all in and learn as much as I can, and I'm asking Frank to please take me to at least one baseball game before the wedding.

So this is it—the start of my Great Quest to Love Baseball. I'm giving it my best shot and I'm really excited to keep learning. I hope that at the very least, someday when Frank is coaching our son's Little League team, I'll be able to go to all the games and actually understand what's going on. And if I happen to become the newest Number One Fan of the White Sox along the way ... that wouldn't be so bad either. :)

Are you a baseball fan? Do you have any tips? I would love to hear why you like the game, how you learned about it, and any other advice!

p.s. Thanks to Sarah for this lovely little reflection on our dinner last week. My take on it here


  1. OH you are too sweet! I learned to love hiking and camping early on because I knew it was such a big interest for Jon! You definitely won't regret learning to love baseball. I am a fair weather fan... I spent a summer in Atlanta and our (then future) best man and I would go to Braves games all the time. I got so into it. Then when I lived in Chicago, 5 blocks away from Wrigley Field, I was pretty into again (though didn't go to games nearly as often because they are far too expensive there!). Here in Pittsburgh, I try to be a fan, but you can only go to so many losing games before you lose heart. :) I did make it to at least 5 last season though! For a pregnant lady in the summer, I think that is quite the accomplishment!

    As for tips - If you find yourself getting bored, just go for a walk and find some of the fun things going on at the park. Pittsburgh has a prize wheel that is always a good time! Oh, and don't stand up in the middle of play. Wait until the end of the half. :)

    1. Ah, I'm jealous that Jon's hobby is hiking and camping—I love doing those things and would definitely find them easier to learn than baseball. Fortunately Frank likes hiking too. Glad I'm not the only wife-to-be picking up new hobbies for her husband's sake. :)

      That IS really impressive that you made it to so many games while pregnant! Your summer in Atlanta sounds like the perfect environment for learning baseball; everyone keeps telling me the main thing is just to GO TO GAMES (still haven't though). I'm hoping to make it to a few this summer.

      Thanks for the tips about games—I'll file those away and hopefully they'll keep me from doing anything too embarrassing during games!

  2. haha!! I am in the exact same boat. Brendan is a baseball fanatic. he actually considers Opening Day a holiday... like, for real. I think the number 1 thing is just to support your partner's interests. try as I might, I will never truly love baseball the way Brendan does. (which works out, because he will never love hiking and running the way I do.) but! there is hope. I do love how *he* loves baseball, and that's really what it's all about.

    1. I showed Frank your comment and he responded, "Opening Day IS a holiday!" Sounds like he and Brendan would get along. :)

      I agree—there's only so much you can do to acquire a new hobby, and considering I started learning about baseball at 23 and Frank started at 3, it would be pretty hard for me to ever catch up with him. But you're right—the main thing is to support and appreciate our husbands' interests.

  3. What you said above about Frank starting at 3 and you at 23 is so true...when you first asked me about learning baseball, I wasn't even sure how/where to start! Here is the book I mentioned the other day: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Philosophy-Thinking-Outside-Batters/dp/0812695569 (and the one about the stadiums: http://www.amazon.com/Take-Me-Out-Ballpark-Illustrated/dp/1579125131/ref=cm_lmf_tit_5).

    In addition to "The Sandlot," you should also watch 'Moneyball' (or read the book) and 'Field of Dreams.' Especially 'Field of Dreams'. 'The Natural' is also pretty good.

    The librarian in me also immediately went to LibGuides, if you want to get really academic about it: http://libguides.princeton.edu/content.php?pid=161856&sid=1367797

    But yes, the key is really to just watch a lot of games. It's a sport that can't truly be enjoyed unless you pay attention...there's a cerebral reward.