Literature, the New York Mets and the tug of baseball

From SABR member Judy Johnson at Watching the Game on May 3, 2012:

I’ve followed the New York Mets for 50 years.  How can this possibly be?  How can I be older than a ball club?  I’ve endured longer than Shea Stadium did (by a decade), a fact that saddens and amuses me . . . .  

Rooting for the Mets as a child in the 1960s was a perfect way of preparing for life’s and baseball’s disappointments, failures, losses, and dysfunctions. Long before I heard the cliché, I understood viscerally that baseball is a game of failure, because I lived that truth with the early Mets. They taught us not to set the bar too high, until along came an expertly coached team of men who showed us the difference between mediocrity and grandeur.  I rooted for the Mets because they were my dad’s team.  Their abysmal debut season 40-120 felt like a huge win to me, because I’d discovered an amazing game at the tender age of 7 and delighted in every part of it. 

Baseball didn’t begin with souvenirs, t-shirts, and a lot of food; it started with names, sounds, and rhythms in our home.  It began with words. 

My father was a Dutch Reformed minister who worked 7 days a week and many evenings too, but when he came home and spent time with me, baseball asserted itself as language, and this is how the game felt most real. My dad spoke two languages, scripture and baseball, his words rooted in love, with phrases that became deeply embedded in my young psyche:   “3-2 count,” Love is patient and kind . . .  “in the cellar,” my rock and my Redeemer . . .  “6-4-3 double play,”  and the Word was made flesh.  

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Originally published: May 3, 2012. Last Updated: May 3, 2012.