Baseball season is in full swing since the first of the month. I love baseball. I have since I was a little girl. I’d watch games with my dad when television was still in black and white. Dizzy Dean and Peewee Reese were the commentators. They’d banter back and forth and Dean always had words he used that didn’t really exist in everyday language like, “He slud into third” or he would say, “Let the teachers learn the kids English. I’ll learn the kids baseball.”
Daddy would laugh at all the hijinks of these two colorful characters. Both had been baseball players at one time. Dizzy Dean was a hall of fame pitcher and Peewee Reese was a shortstop for the Brooklyn and later Los Angeles Dodgers. He was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Later on, they became popular broadcasters for CBS.
These early telecasted games were sponsored by Falstaff beer. The company’s iconic cartoon character called The Old Pro became synonymous with baseball. It seems he was always getting into some kind of trouble or mischief during the commercial interruptions. I don’t exactly remember actual commercials, but I remember liking them and Daddy laughing at them.
I miss The Old Pro and watching baseball with Dad.
My three all-time favorite movies are “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams” and “A League of Their Own.” Most of you have already heard of these movies unless you have never been to a movie or have lived in an underground bunker all your lives.
“The Natural” stars Robert Redford as a young baseball prodigy who could have been “the best there ever was” if he hadn’t been shot by a mentally disturbed young woman who became obsessed with him as he began a train trip to try to gain fame and fortune playing the game of baseball. I loved it when Wilford Brimley as manager, Pop Fisher, of the worst team in baseball and the team Roy Hobbs (Redford) is assigned to as an older rookie said, “I should have been a farmer. From the day I was born, I should have stayed on the farm … raised cows, pigs, chickens, ducks.” This may not be totally word for word, but it’s pretty close. My oldest son says that sometimes when lawyering gets overwhelming.
“Yep, Mom, I should have been a farmer.”
I love “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner. Ray Kinsella, Costner’s character, hears a voice coming from his corn field on his farm in Iowa, “If you build it, they will come.” At first, he’s the only one who hears the voice. Later his wife, Annie, played by Amy Madigan also hears them and sees a baseball team playing on the field her husband plowed up and turned into a baseball field. Folks in town thought he had lost it, but his little daughter also sees them along with others. What the movie is really all about is Ray having a catch with his late father which he never had a chance to do.
My favorite scene in the movie has nothing to do with baseball, though. It has to do with Annie facing down people who want to burn books and she takes an issue with that. I love how she stands up to an obnoxious woman at a meeting. Annie has no use for people who want to burn books. She lets them have it! Go Annie!
My third favorite is “A League of Their Own” with Tom Hanks is a team manager of the once real life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. It revolves around the trials and tribulations of a group of rough and ready female players who could put some males to shame. One famous line in the movie and one of my favorite lines of any movie is when the character Madonna plays cries over some incident in a game. Hanks looks at her incredulously and says, “Are you crying? There is no crying in baseball.”
I’ve been watching the Braves this season. For a while, I stopped watching baseball on television. I use to watch it with Aunt Rosie when she stayed with us sometimes back in the ’90s. She loved the Braves. Wayne Minshew, my late sports writer friend, turned adult literacy advocate and the best idea man I ever knew, and I used to talk baseball a lot. He worked for the Braves for a time and wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Braves are doing okay this season so far. They are a young team and I have high hopes.
No matter. Nothing will change. I’ll always love baseball. Maybe I’ll hear voices some day telling me to build a baseball field. I’d do it.