We usually think of origin stories as the province of fictional superheroes or the real-life super rich. It could be an ordinary boy bitten by a radioactive spider or arriving on earth as refugees from an annihilated planet. Perhaps we think of a nearly destitute J.K. Rowling toiling away at her first novel in a coffee shop, or Jeff Bezos creating an empire from scratch on a computer in his living room. Yet many of us who came from humble origins and went on to live simple, unremarkable lives also have a narrative that informs who we became. Mine happened in third grade.
I am a husband, a father, and a teacher. To these three descriptors of my identity I would add one more, just slightly less central. I am a baseball fan.
I am not one of the true obsessives who grew up playing Strat-O-Matic and graduated to planning his whole calendar around the SABR conference or spending countless hours with multiple fantasy leagues (two is my limit). But I have been a fantasy league commissioner since 1992, and the majority of text messages that my adult son and I exchange have some connection to the top Atlanta Braves prospects for the coming year. I also get to sleep most nights not by counting sheep, but by silently reciting World Series winners backward from 1970.
Baseball, its present and its past, is deeply ingrained in my outlook on life. My bookshelf is 70% baseball, 30% history and politics.
Baseball on the field was part of my youth, first as a fourth-rate Little League catcher and then as a minor league batboy for the Class A Lynchburg Mets.
Family vacations have often included trips to Baltimore or Atlanta for games. My son’s youth and high school games with me as spectator, coach, or scorekeeper were part of the rhythm of our family life for over a decade. Our baseball bond defines our relationship.
As the immortal lyric of David Byrne plaintively asks, “well, how did I get here?” Read the rest of this entry »