April announced the start of the baseball season. It used to be a magical time for me. Between the late 70s and early 2000s, I was a devoted fan of my hometown Major League team.
I started being interested in sports when I was four years old upon realizing that, if I watched a hockey game on TV with my dad, I could spend more time with him watching that one game than I did in an entire week.
Then my uncle came into the picture and I was sold. I had many years of fun talks with both over line ups, trades, decisions of the coaches and amazing plays.
In those years, baseball games were on TV only on the weekends. The rest of the time, if you wanted to follow a game, you listened on the radio. To this day, I remember that the first sign of Spring for me was to hear the familiar voices of the baseball announcers calling the Spring training matches. The sound of the bat hitting the ball for a home run, the cheers of the crowd – indelible memories.
I attended matches too. My first when I was eight years old, just before the team moved to a bigger and colder stadium. In 1993, I was in the stands with my dad when they retired my favourite player’s jersey. He had gotten free tickets (my dad is quite a cheap wad). It was a memorable event. I missed not having my uncle there though.
The 1993 and 1994 seasons were amazing for my team. Then it went it hell in a hand basket with a players’ strike, a fire sale of all our best players, my uncle being diagnosed with cancer and passing away three months later. For these and other reasons, 1995 was one of the worst years of my life. My sport interest waned but I still waiting anxiously for April, for the sounds, for the hope, for the cheers, for a while…
The last hometown match I attended was just before leaving the city in 2003. I went because close friends invited me. Convinced by the team’s bad management that the team was doomed to move away, not longer benefiting from fun chats with my uncle, I had stopped caring. Instead of waiting for the team to leave me, I had left the team.
In February 2012, my favourite baseball player of all time passed away. Way too young, just like my uncle. In watching retrospective video clips of his career, I cried and cried. I cried for the loss of a sports hero, for the loss of my team a decade earlier, for the loss of my enthusiasm for sports and, again, for the devastating loss of my uncle.
I’m sure you all know by now that life is very different from sports. The winners and losers aren’t clearly distinguishable, and more often than not, there is no next season to make things better.
We simply keep on.