Well, another year of baseball has begun. Spring training is here. Of course every year each major league team, our Seattle Mariners included, fill the sports section of our newspapers with grand dreams of the upcoming season. In the case of our Mariners, so many lost seasons makes it harder and harder to get excited. But each spring I do feel a certain unexplainable twinge, but it quickly passes.
I like baseball. But there was a time I loved it. No, love is not a strong enough term. I lived and breathed baseball. And though it had both its good and bad sides, for a time I was paid to play a boy’s game. I played professional baseball.
If you have ever seen the movie Bull Durham, you have seen a pretty accurate portrayal of what minor league baseball was like. And I’m sure it hasn’t change much. Without the hope of making it to “the bigs” for me it was really not a fun life. Until then the most games I ever played in a summer was somewhere around 30 while playing semi-pro. Triple that playing farm league ball. It seemed we spent all summer either riding an old diesel bus or staying in some third-rate and seedy hotel. With me not being old enough for any real forms of entertainment, other than on the ball field, life was pretty boring, especially while playing away games. I soon learned that even at the farm league level, baseball was a business, and the players a commodity. Without going into the details, I made it a season and a half before blowing out my elbow. The organization showed no enthusiasm to see me through a surgery, and I wasn’t that excited about sticking around. So that was it. Other than playing catch with my kids, I never again threw a baseball.
Only a very small fraction of boys who have played the sport of baseball go on to play professionally. And if one is good enough to be signed to a minor league contract, on the average, only 1 out of every 116 players ever actually make it all the way to a major league team. I was one of those 115 who didn’t make it.
But today baseball quickly bores me. Every now and then the wife and I will go to Safeco field and watch the Mariners, or over to Tacoma to watch their Triple A farm team. But by the 7th inning I’m ready to beat the crowds and go home. I guess my time in the sun has come and gone. But, believe me, they were times I will never forget.