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Baseball: America

In: Historical Events

Submitted By zcat925
Words 685
Pages 3
St. Paul, Minn. — Possibly you've heard all you need to hear about the aesthetics of baseball. And here I am adding innings.

But when I get impatient with metaphorical praises of baseball as a poem, or as music, it's because for me baseball predated both as objects of contemplation and participation. Calling baseball a sonnet in flannel or symphony in spikes (it happens), is insulting, or at least patronizing, to baseball.

It's just fine its own self.

The first time I saw a professional baseball game was at Waters Field in Salem, Oregon. The blue Dodgers logo on the façade of a wood plank circle signified great entertainment within and was every teacher's ideal of proper cursive handwriting. This was 1963, '64. Flannel, in its elegantly simple blowsiness, hadn't yet given way to polyester. My memory of how a player ran in this uniform is like watching an old newsreel in my head. The game then, only a half dozen years removed from the parent team's Brooklyn base, was closer to Gherig and Ruth than to Jeter and Pujols.

The Salem Dodgers were a Single A farm team in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. They had players named Larry Ramsey, Cleo James, a giraffe of a pitcher with Buddy Holly glasses named Gene Brabender, Clarence Jones — who made it to the big leagues and later was the Atlanta Brave's hitting coach — and Jim Lefebvre — who became the 1965 Rookie of the Year with the L.A. Dodgers in an all switch-hitting infield.

They also briefly had a catcher named Bill Kelso. He threw to second (and occasionally back to the mound) so hard they turned him into a pitcher. A miniature catcher myself, Kelso's story suggested that in whatever drudgery I might spend my games and my days, somewhere along the line the true prince in me would be discovered. It was a lovely thought.

And even Max Patkin, the legendary clown prince of baseball, occasionally...

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