KASEYCOFF
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Day 163, Part 2: Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and... American cars.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad..."

A few years ago, Himself and I went to Cooperstown, to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (With a once-upon-a-time effort at a lit degree, I might be excused for explaining that it was baseball, not James Fenimore Cooper, what drew me there.)

"Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry cent,
Katie spent..."

When you go in they have a small movie theatre that's decked out as a baseball stadium. There's a certain quaintness to it, to my mind, rather than corny or OTT tourist-y. They show a short film, a brief overview of the history of baseball, including B&W photos and clips from old newsreels and so forth.

"On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said 'No,
I'll tell you what you can do...'"

At the end they play a filmstrip with words on the screen, with musical accompaniment, and invite the audience to 'follow the bouncing ball.'

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

Himself started looking around, first in surprise, then in near-amazement, as everyone in the audience joined in. Did we need the words on the screen? Nosireebob, WE didn't - HE would've. He'd never heard the song in his life, and had no idea that all these people would truly sing along. I assured him they would have, even without subtitles, lol.

There have been a few moments during our marriage when the differences in our backgrounds - our cultures, our nationalities - are called to my attention in a big way. That was one of them.

What brought this to mind now is our being in the midst of rerunning Ken Burns' documentary, 'Baseball.'

Each night, after we both get to bed (one of us being prone to keeping the computer on late - and no, taint me; I read), we watch television for a half-hour or so. We don't watch 'live' broadcasts, or even anything necessarily recent. We work our way thru our (somewhat limited) DVD library, re-watching favorite films, old sitcoms, documentaries, series we either recorded or were gifted.

A few days ago we finished doing another run-thru of 'Pirates of the Caribbean.' (The idea being we would go see #4 when we were finished, which we have not done and at this rate, it will be out on DVD by the time we get around to it, so we will undoubtedly end up with a copy and watch the first three all over again as a prelude. Not that I mind. I remember '21 Jump Street,' and a lot of John Waters' 'CryBaby' was filmed in my central-Maryland hometown. Those of you who follow Johnny Depp will get the connection. But I digress.)

The next night Himself said 'I thought we might watch the baseball series again.' Fine by me. I watched it when it aired on PBS (early '90s?), and after we bought it at Cooperstown (well, you gotta have a souvenir, right?), and we watched it once more after that, but it's been a while, and heck, that's why we wanted it in the first place, because we knew we'd watch it more than once.

I'd forgotten just what a lovely piece of work it is.

Baseball is one of the few 'real' sports I played when I was growing up. At my elementary school (a small one, with six classrooms, in a rural farming community) 'the boys' didn't question letting 'the girls' play baseball: if we hadn't had co-ed teams, there wouldn't have been any baseball. As it was we usually played one grade against another, just to get enough people.

[Note to BakerBarbara: yes, we played the grade ahead of us - Roxanne, Holly, and your brother were among the players I remember. And I'm telling you, Holly could knock it out of the diamond, field like a pro, and probably captained the team more than once. More than one baseball was lost over toward Mr Hoff's field, thanks to her.]

The school sports equipment provided softballs. Hah. We brought our own stuff in, and we played hardball. Softball was for wimps.

I don't remember a time I didn't know how to play. I can remember - just - watching one of my uncles (he's only eight years older than I am) play Little League. I was probably about four. And I remember falling asleep on summer nights listening not to music but to the broadcast of a baseball game, as my father tuned in.

Those were the days when local games would be 'blacked out' on television, and he was first and foremost an Orioles fan, so home games were only available by radio.

You native Baltimorons will know what I mean. Drifting off to the great Chuck Thompson, 'And it's a high fly ball, out to center field...'

There's a display at Cooperstown devoted to notable baseball announcers. And yes, Chuck is there, distinguished with a bio and a nice picture. (It was years before I knew what he looked like, but I'd have known his voice anywhere.)

All of this is so alien to Himself. He enjoys hearing about my memories of the game, and he has learned a lot of baseball lore from the documentary and from Cooperstown and so on. One of my stepsons even picked up an interest, and now plays baseball on a London team comprised of 'British fans of American baseball.'

Himself is as intrigued by, as curious about, Americanisms as I am by things British. What he doesn't recognize, though, can still surprise me.

I grew up in the mid-Atlantic region, and at this time of year, lightning bugs are everywhere. There are none in the UK. Since we've only visited America in the spring or autumn, Himself has never seen them.

Somewhere in the mid-1980s I was sitting in the backyard one June twilight with my ex-husband's mother.* My children were something like 3 and 5. For whatever reason, it was a good year for lightning bugs - they were all around us, twinkling lights everywhere. My mother-in-law swept her hand thru the air, and came up with the better part of a dozen, in one fell swoop, to the delight of the kids.

*She's gone now, Lord rest her soul. Since the ex and I were divorced long before she died, I've never been sure whether I should refer to her as 'my ex-late-mother-in-law' or 'my late-ex-mother-in-law.' I dislike referring to her as my mother-in-law, simply because I feel it somehow slights my current mother-in-law, who holds the title, even though she also is now late. Eh. The way my mind works.

I haven't seen any lightning bugs in well over ten years. Himself's birthday is in late June, and I've promised him one of these years we'll go to the US for his birthday, and I will show him real lightning bugs.

Sometimes - not often, but occasionally - I get just a little homesick, y'know?

Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • PATRISNA
    Loved the blog. Loved catching lightening bugs in summer when we visited my grand parents in Missouri . Thanks for the memories.
    3459 days ago
  • KASEYCOFF
    One summer my son participated in a 'baseball camp' held at the local YMCA. He came home one afternoon and said 'Today we had a ballplayer visit. He talked for a while about baseball and what it meant to him.' 'You mean, he's a professional baseball player? He plays for the major leagues?' 'No, he's old. I think he used to, tho.' 'What's his name?' 'I'm not sure. Our coach introduced him as Mr Robinson, so that's what I called him. He signed a picture and gave it to me.'

    'Mr Robinson' was Brooks Robinson. The kid shook his hand - but I've got the signed photograph. One of these days my boy'll get it back, neatly framed. Not until I'm done with it, tho. I'll leave it to him in my will, lol...
    emoticon
    3460 days ago
  • BAKERBARBARA
    I remember my father watching Orioles baseball on Sundays. Even if our preacher came by to visit...the game stayed on. My father was diagnosed with cancer in 1966 and then passed away in March 1967. I thought it was so wonderful that the Orioles won the World Series in the fall of '66 since that was the last World Series he watched. Do you remember these names...Brooks and Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Andy Etchebarren and who could forget Jim Palmer (and his underwear ads)????

    I love lightning bugs!! My memory of them is catching them with Charlie and my cousin, Billy when we visited my grandmother in West Virginia. Do you remember something about a lab or whatever paying people for lightning bugs??

    Fantastic writing as usual!!

    I get homesick for my younger days! emoticon
    3460 days ago
  • LYNMEINDERS
    Greta blog....love the reminiscence of it....
    Am not american myself and certainly not familiar with the baseball there however do remember the song....sang it myself just reading your blog....lol....it's great....
    Thanks for the memories
    3460 days ago
  • WINE4GIRL
    What great memories and great triggers to more memories. Sharing cultures is an adventure in itself, eh?
    emoticon emoticon
    3460 days ago
  • 2KITTIES
    Loved your blog and thank you for taking me back for just a short while. I'm not sure if I've seen lightning bugs since I've moved here to OKC but your post makes me miss them! Come home soon for baseball and bring your mason jar so you can keep them on your nightstand

    Ken Burn's documentaries are wonderful.

    emoticon emoticon
    3460 days ago
  • LECATES
    I remember going out and catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar---the lazy days of summer---sitting on my grandmother's front porch helping her shell peas or snap beans or open up lima beans----my dh brings them home shelled----he does not understand that I want them still in the shell and the nostalgia of sitting there and shelling them and getting a sore thumb from opening them. That is why I like our house----I have a screened in porch---maybe not in the country with trees shading it---but it has a swing and I love to sit out on it---and my little gd loves doing it, too---something to pass down. And yes, I remember hearing his voice and the TV carrying the games. I think we all like to find out about places we don't live and forget some of the fun memories of our past.
    3460 days ago
  • no profile photo PROT0530
    I love lightning bugs! Sure wouldn't want to live without them. Thanks for sharing the memories. A beautifully rendered blog.
    3460 days ago
  • DRB13_1
    Ahhh, memories of lightning bugs. You had me at hello, LOL.
    I don't think I could play a proper game of baseball at my age.
    3460 days ago
  • ONEKIDSMOM
    Ah, baseball! I've been to Cooperstown, and for the same reason. I remember my own neighborhood team, which we humorously nicknamed the Orchard Street Nannygoats.

    I've only ever been, physically, to a single Major League ballgame, and it was the Orioles vs. the Yankees at Camden Yards. Believe it or not, it turned into the longest 9 inning game in Major League history. My favorite bit was seeing Cal Ripken, Jr. knock a double, but to be honest, it was a work night, and I attended with some fellow consultants on the same project. We gave in to the demands of having to work in the morning and bailed around the 7th inning stretch. Back in my hotel room, I saw the game was still in progress at midnight!

    Thanks for the memories, all around!
    - Barb
    3460 days ago
  • LEANJEAN6
    Awwwwww------ever nice picture! --We have lightning bugs here in the evenings---I suppose baseball in the UK is not popular----Sounds like you made it that way however!--Nice to hear you 2 have a few differences , coming from different backgrounds---Husband here is not only Chinese, but from Jamaica--so his view of the world is slightly slanted ---or is it my view?--Ha Ha---- We run into problems at times----mostly over silly stuff--like---he can't seem to use a telephone---- shouts into it---can not use a cell phone either----Anyway--enjoyed yer blog---- good blog girl!-lynda emoticon
    3460 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/12/2011 6:15:16 PM
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