The Collegian
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Thanks for the memories, baseball

This weekend as I watched the Richmond baseball team take on St. Bonaventure University, I was reminded of my childhood.

There was something about the red and blue uniforms that took me back to Turner Field, "Home of the Braves."

My dad took my two younger sisters and me to an Atlanta Braves game when I was about eight. He bought us overpriced Braves baseball caps, which we begged for and probably never wore after that game. We all brought our baseball gloves -- properly broken-in using baby oil, rubber bands and a baseball -- in case Chipper Jones hit one our way.

After that game, our "playing house" routine switched to "playing baseball." Someone was the pitcher, someone was the batter, and someone had to be the outfielder, whose actual job was to crawl under the porch and fetch the ball (the least desireable position). We forced our parents to watch us swat Wiffle Balls over the roof of our house and cheer as we rounded bases composed of my mother's azalea bushes. We even made them some burnt microwave popcorn.

I'm sure most of us have had some relationship with baseball over the course of our lives -- whether you're a Bostonian who frequents Fenway Park or you've thrown catch in the backyard with your dad. Even if the only reason you've heard the term "Sultan of Swat" is because you've watched "The Sandlot" too many times, or if your baseball career ended at age five when you realized the ball was no longer going to be perched atop a tee, you've had some connection with baseball.

So, I encourage you to cheer on the Spiders in their next game at Pitt Field. I hope this Virginia weather will finally decide it's springtime and bring us some sun. Or you could be the dedicated fan that I was and sit in the blustery wind and rain. (First time on the job, I didn't realize I could sit inside the press box.)

My plug for the baseball team: The Spiders play VCU at home on April 12. For those of you still bitter about VCU's seeding in the NCAA basketball tournament, this is the perfect opportunity to watch us crush the Rams. And while you're there, maybe you'll reflect on your own baseball memories.

This time the popcorn will be fresh, your seat will be close to the action and your Richmond baseball cap will make you feel like a part of the team. And if you get to see Billy Barber smack another game-winner into right field, I can promise he won't have to hop over his mom's azalea bushes on his path around the bases.

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