It’s a rainy, foggy, unusually balmy morning here in northern Illinois as I write this, and I have no idea why my topic for today is my topic for today! Perhaps it’s merely because I’m thinking that another baseball season looms not too far away, and the memories from when I was a kid—age 11 or 12—come flooding back and are way too great to ignore.
It seems it was always right around this part of the new year, while we were in the throes of a snow-covered existence, fending off the deep chill of winter, a million miles away from baseball and the glory of spring and summer, when the first inkling of baseball-to-come began. However, it was during this time of cold, ice, and snow when I’d spend most weekends out on the ponds skating and playing hockey and happier than one could imagine.
I would picture myself skating alongside my heroes on the Fort Wayne Komets and enjoying every minute I was lucky enough to be out there on some farm pond. What better way to fill in between last baseball season and the one yet to come!
Yet, during this period, baseball’s annual “hot stove” was fired up, and mention of trades and prospects appeared on the sports pages. In those days, free agency was unheard of and players tended to remain with their teams, season after season. Just reading—or hearing—anything related to the White Sox and what they were up to in preparation for spring training, or the regular season ahead, would really get my juices flowing.
I knew that the ponds wouldn’t be frozen forever; soon, the snow would be gone and the air would warm and the grass would begin to turn green and I would have a sore arm for a couple of days after the first game of “catch” with my dad at the earliest opportunity!
Baseball was never really that far from my thinking. Living more than a hundred miles from Chicago, in an average-size Indiana town, news travelled more slowly then—although my uncle always seemed to know the most up-to-the-minute status of all things White Sox! Regardless, I was always getting the “itch” right about this time of January, and it still holds to this day.
Alas, my days of spending hour upon hour out on the frozen ponds, stick handling up and down the ice, playing imaginary games against imaginary foes, have long since faded away. But one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s my eager anticipation of a new birth of a new season, where all things are fresh and unblemished. Last year is last year! There’s hope and promise of things yet to come. There are sunny days and warm nights ahead and the long haul of another White Sox season—same as it’s always been. That’s good…
See you at the ballpark…