Play ball! It's a phrase that has grown to mean a little more this spring. I grew up dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player. I spent hours throwing a baseball against a woodpile, perfecting my motion and striking out imaginary batters. Growing up I never had a practice, game or season cancelled due to a pandemic.
As a kid in Maryland every season we would take a trip to a Baltimore Orioles game. I thought Oriole Park was the greatest place to watch a baseball game until I saw Oracle Park in San Francisco. Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, is where my family now goes to see Major League Baseball. Last season my family didn't make one trip to the city. No crazy crab sandwiches, no splash hits, no kayakers in the cove and not one Ghirardelli sundae. Not even a garlic fry. Only the seagulls got to watch, and I think even they had to wear masks. The Giants have indicated that fans may be allowed this season but in smaller numbers. Will we get to walk along the Embarcadero to the game and gaze at the bay as the umpire shouts, “Play ball?"
My enthusiasm for baseball never caught up with my ability. I peaked when I was picked for a select team in little league, playing against the top talent from other little leagues in the area. I could field, throw, and run but I struggled with hitting. I was a tall kid so when I got my rare chance to bat against select pitching talent, I had a plan. I stepped to the plate looking as big and menacing as I could, imploring the defense to back up and get ready. With the pitch in the air I squared up and dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line running as fast as I could to first base for a single. It was the closest I got to the big leagues.
Now I pitch to my son in the backyard while he dreams of playing in the majors. Little league seems to be on track for something resembling a real season. Last year we were grateful for the trainings and practices that were held but this year we are excited for the real thing. My son can't wait to play with all his friends, and I can't wait to hear the first “Play Ball!" in little league in almost 2 years.
At the Truckee Pool the Orange Tier is the closest thing we have to an umpire shouting play ball. We are just now able to hold some limited trainings, organized practices and lessons. The Orange Tier will allow us to finally open to the public. When those doors open and the first lap swimmer gets to join us for a 6am swim I will be there and I'll be shouting, "Play Ball!" Whatever activity you are looking forward to this spring I hope you get to shout, "Play Ball!"