Last night at a small party, we played a game aptly named Colander, in which you write the name of a person or a fictional character that at least two people in the room would have knowledge of on a slip of paper. You then add the slip of paper to a colander, and you would have to guess the name with clues while passing the colander around. Someone put in the name Jorge Pasada, and when I got the name I had no idea who he was. The person who added the name exclaimed that since I was wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball cap that I should know the current catcher of the Yankees.
I stopped watching baseball in 1994.
That’s the year that Ryne Sandberg retired (the first time – he came back for two seasons a couple years later). My father, having grown up next to Wrigley Field in the 50s, loved the Cubs. Not surprisingly, my brother and I grew up with a healthy love for the game as well, and our passions were directed to the Cubs, since those were usually the only games allowed on our TV.
Ryne Sandberg, the second baseman for the Cubs, was our hero. He embodied everything we loved about the game, and was a true leader for the Cubs during the mid 80s and 90s. We even have one of his bats which he used to hit a double off of the Phillies. My brother and I would ask our father to tell us the story surrounding the bat about once a year; we loved that bat.
The Baseball Strike of 1994 left a bad taste in my mouth, and also in Sandberg’s. He retired, and as my respect for him grew because of the act, it only served to shed an even harsher light on what the institution of baseball had become due to the strike.
I miss baseball, and I miss talking about it with my father. Every season I think about maybe trying to get back into it, but I can’t. It irritates me that much, especially with the performance enhancing scandal. Watching Palmeiro swear to members of Congress that he never used any drugs and then to get caught with them mere months later sickened me.
I was still thinking about not knowing who Jorge Pasada this morning when I opened up my Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition to a story about the Vintage Baseball Association. Much like the appeal of Civil War re-enactments and Renaissance Festivals, vintage baseball teams try to capture all that was good and pure about the game originally by playing by the old rules. This includes not using gloves to catch the ball, causing many sore hands and broken fingers. Some clubs even talk with the spectators in an 1800’s vernacular, taking the game to a level of performance art as well.
There is something about this idea that appeals to me.
Just in case you thought comics weren’t going to come into play here, one of my favorite graphic novels of all time is about baseball in the 1920s. The Golem’s Mighty Swing by James Sturm is magnificent. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it. However, if you remember sitting in the stands with your father and deciphering the codes he used for runs, errors, outs, etc. in the back of the game’s program, you may enjoy the book just a little bit more.
You can also browse through the Parlor archives.
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