By Ken Reed

I always get excited when a new baseball season starts.

Baseball has a hook in me and I’m not sure why.

It’s not my favorite sport. It might not be my second. But I’m drawn to it in ways I’m not with other sports.

Believe me, I’m not a big fan of the overly romanticized odes to baseball that too often show up in print or on the big screen. Nevertheless, there’s a specialness to baseball for me.

I guess there’s no better place to start than with spring training. I actually get excited about pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. I love everything about spring training. Conversely, I could care less about football and basketball training camps.

I like the leisurely pace in the spring. Players mosey up to the field for batting practice with smiles on their faces. They joke with teammates and fans and sign autographs along the way.

Old-timers in uniform hang out around the batting cage or bullpen and tell stories as often as they give advice to players.

I love the mild weather at spring training games and sitting in the grass beyond the outfield walls. I enjoy exposing my winter white to the sun and watching better-looking sun worshippers do the same. I get a kick out of five-year-olds playing catch and chasing wild throws down the grassy knolls, often tumbling as their little legs can’t keep pace with their increasing speed.

I cherish the fact that I’ve shared family vacations to spring training with my parents and sister; my wife and friends; and more recently, with my children.

Once the regular season starts, I look forward to perusing the morning box scores while eating my breakfast cereal and drinking a cup of tea. Why is looking at box scores such a fun ritual in baseball? I rarely look at basketball and football box scores ….

I love listening to baseball broadcasts on the car radio. I also listen to baseball games as I mow the yard and I’ll bring a speaker out to my backyard deck to listen to the game while flipping burgers. With a baseball radio broadcast, you can “see” the game unfold in ways that are impossible with football and basketball.

All I need is a couple innings. I don’t remember the last time I listened to an entire baseball game on the radio but a couple innings is like a laidback 15-minute chat with a good neighbor over the backyard fence.

Baseball brings a ton of history and nostalgia to the table as well. It connects me to the innocence of my youth like no other sport.

As a Denver native, we weren’t blessed with a Major League team during my youth. I adopted the Oakland A’s (cool uniforms, funky names, lots of mustaches and nearly as many stars) as my team growing up. I can remember the entire starting line-ups, rotations and closers for the ’71-‘75 A’s. I can’t do the same with my favorite basketball and football teams from the same era.

My dad recognized my passion for the A’s and baseball and wanted to feed it. He somehow always found a way for our annual Griswold-like summer family vacations to include a game or two involving the A’s in some American League city. Today, these games hold memories everyone in the family cherishes … like the time my younger sister turned her popcorn container into a megaphone and yelled as loud as she could, “Go Koufax!” Sandy Koufax was long retired and the Dodgers were playing 2000 miles away!

My uncle and cousin in Minnesota taught me how to keep score at the first Major League Baseball game I attended, a game featuring the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers way back in 1968 at the old Metropolitan Stadium. Today, I still like keeping score at baseball games, whether sitting at a game by myself or sharing scoring duties with my wife or kids. Yet the thought of scoring a game in basketball or football (do they score games in football?) never crosses my mind.

I have great memories of being 10-years-old and walking to the local convenience store with my best friend on hot summer days to buy a couple packs of Topps baseball cards. We’d immediately rip them open to see what players we got and then walk home and trade duplicate cards (we called them “doubles”) with each other for players we didn’t have in our collections.

There’s no better game for shooting the breeze with family or friends than baseball. The pace is perfect for simultaneously watching the action on the field and catching up on the activities of a good friend’s kids. And going to a baseball game is ideal for extended family outings. Grandparents and grandkids alike are comfortable at the ol’ ballpark.

I guess part of baseball’s allure is the constancy of it. It’s there with you, day in and day out, for eight months (counting spring training and the postseason). Baseball’s a great companion, even if it’s not your favorite sport. I have a relationship with baseball that I don’t have with other sports, or many other things in my life for that matter.

Once baseball gets you it has you for life. Jim Bouton captured it best at the end of his classic book Ball Four.

“You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”


Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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