“Jimmy Dugan: Sneaking out like this, quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that. / Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard. / Jimmy Dugan: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
– Tom Hanks (Dugan) & Geena Davis (Hinson) in A League of Their Own
April 1, tomorrow, marks the beginning of the MLB season in America. As an individual ready for a slight return to normalcy, baseball is the great American pastime. I am deeply nostalgic about baseball, more so than any other sport. It’s as if, once spring is sprung, the smell in the air and feel of the environment demand that players take the field to participate in the American pastime. Days like today, the eve of the start of a new MLB season, remind me of my love of baseball and my enjoyment of movies with baseball as an underlining theme. I grew up watching baseball films, and they are plausibly the first type of sports-themed films I fell in love with, thus molding my cinematic experience for the rest of my life. There are films with powerful, uplifting moments that allow them to transcend their above-average status and become legendary. So, let’s talk baseball, both on the field and the cinematic screen.
“I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack… it grew by one. So there… there were two of us in the wolf pack… And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, “Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack.”
– Zach Galifianakis (Alan) from The Hangover (2009)
In the long history of my life, which isn’t that long at all, I have never had a ton of friends. Sure, I have close friends from my past who I am still in contact with from time to time. I communicate with colleagues and classmates who I met along the way and positively impacted me. But friends I hang out with and talk to frequently are a much smaller group, at least in terms of number. Over the last decade, I built a small group who I consider great friends. So, it should be of no surprise that when returning from my month-long stay in Shanghai, China, in July of 2018, I was invited by a couple of those close friends for a weekend trip to Philadelphia; I responded yes. This group of friends goes on a trip once a year, usually to visit a Major League Baseball stadium, test out the local breweries, and eat fantastic food. I was thrilled to be invited. I had not been on one of their weekend excursions, but I enjoyed playing softball and exploring breweries with these four guys, so I was eager and excited to join them. Filled with history, a couple of breweries, and a visit to Citizens Bank Park, this trip became an unforgettable memory.
“Archie Graham: We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “Well, there’ll be other days.” I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”
– Field of Dreams
In June 2016, I took my dad to the New York Yankees Old-Timers’ Day game. It was the 70th Anniversary of the event, and we were celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday. We decided to make a weekend of it. So, we enjoyed the city, ate good food, and prepared for a full day of baseball. At the game, we saw many of our favorite baseball players from years past. Still, we watched the old-timers’ game and a regular-season game while sitting in Championship seating at the new Yankee Stadium, which my dad had not yet visited. Free food, comfortable seats, close to the field; it was terrific. We’ve seen dozens of games at Fenway Park and the old Yankee Stadium and sat in basic fan seating, but after years of Yankee games, we finally enjoyed this new stadium in luxury seating. We watched baseball in style, even as we reflected on all those games we sat through before.