Major League Baseball got underway this week, and while I still greatly enjoy the start of each new season, I do wonder how many of today’s kids still tune in like kids of previous generations? When I was a youngster in the 1970’s and 80’s, we counted the days until the first pitch, and eagerly awaited Topps to release the new set of baseball cards that we had waited on all winter. Then, as the weather broke (meaning the snow finally melted), we were immediately outside playing pickup games as soon as we could. I’m not sure today’s kids are as enthusiastic about baseball as we were in my day.
Rarely do I see kids these days playing street ball or pickup baseball games at the parks around my house, probably due to a number of different reasons. Some have blamed the advancement of video games stealing away from would-be baseball games, others say it’s because of the emergence of newer sports (like X-Games and mixed martial arts), while others feel as though baseball isn’t as fun and exciting in comparison to other sports.
At risk in sounding like I also used to walk to school through snow in my bare feet for miles on end, I do remember my childhood consisting of every imaginable version of baseball — from wiffle ball to street ball to even batting opposite hand on fields that were too small for us as we got older, bigger, and stronger. I remember spray painting bases on the street, and taping a strikeout box on our garage door that served as a dual backstop/catcher. I also remember studying baseball cards before big trade days where we would all assemble, chomp on baseball “stick” gum, and make our baseball card deals. We made bats out of sticks, balls out of rags and duct tape, and fields out of anything that gave us a good chance at not breaking a window with a HR or foul ball! I’m not sure how much of any of that goes on anymore.
Baseball has always been known as “America’s Game,” although I’m not sure the generation of kids today would call it that. Oh well, “PLAY BALL!”