Baseball warms the heart

Snow, ice and cold weather are three things that I abhor. Baseball is not.

As I trudged into the office Thursday on yet another South Dakota-like day in Woodbridge, one of my co-workers told me that Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees and Adam Dunn of the Cincinnati Reds both homered in the Spring Training opener. My heart was suddenly warm — and it wasn’t just because Dunn plays for my favorite team.

It was the moment you realize that summer is little more than 90 feet away, that you’re just a hop, skip and a dinger away from 80-degree temperatures and baseball every day for five consecutive months.

There has always been an eternal spring in my heart for the sport that I never played. I competed in football, basketball, softball and tennis but was always attracted to the 90-mile-an-hour fastball, the triple into the right-center field gap and whether the closer from your favorite team will put the game away.

Maybe it’s the fact that I was a rotissiere geek before I even knew what rotissiere meant. As a youngster, I would spend every morning and many evenings poring over the boxscores from the previous night’s games and boring my mother with anything I thought was interesting…which was basically everything.

Or maybe it’s the fact that I collected baseball cards and baseball sticker books. One of my favorite things to do each week was ride my bicycle up to Holdaway’s Drug Store in Louisville, Ky. and buy three packs of cards for $1.05. For a two-year stretch in middle school, I was a collecting fiend, buying boxes of cards until I owned the entire 1987 Topps set.

While I don’t collect baseball cards anymore — they’re just too darn expensive –I follow major league baseball religiously and have become quite a fantasy league geek. Watching the Potomac Cannons has even intensified my love for the sport. It’s just Class A ball but the Carolina League excites me and makes me want to root for prospects to make it to the Show.

Simply being at games on warm summer nights puts me in a peaceful state of mind. Sitting on the metal bleachers at Pfitzner Stadium while keeping score or chatting with friends, watching baseball is not a pastime for me. It’s the past, the present and the future.

It’s remembering your favorite players, like Eric Davis or Cal Ripken. It’s watching budding stars like Covelli Crisp, Dan Haren and Brad Hawpe. And it’s hoping that your team is going to win the pennant again in your lifetime [unless you’re a Cubs fan].

Baseball officially began Thursday and it almost gave me the chills –the good kind.

Kipp Hanley is a staff writer for the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at (703) 878-8053 or e-mail him at [email protected]

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