Pitchers and catchers, along with some over-eager position players, have finally reported to Ft. Myers and Hammond Stadium. Since this is my first spring training, I had no idea that people came to watch the morning practices–there is even a concession and souvineer stand set up.
Since I’m still somewhat new to the scene, I’m a little star-struck…so I snuck out of the office and caught a few minutes of the pitchers and catchers working out. You can tell which fans are seasoned ones, well equipped with a wind-breaker (they get cold easily these days), a roster and pen, and a methodic trailing of the players as they move from the main field to the bullpen to the back fields.
As I stood behind a crowd of people by the bullpen, I noticed a young boy, probably four or five, who refused to leave when his dad said it was time to go. He had found the perfect gap to watch the pitchers warm up, and he follwed their pitches–back and forth, back and forth. It’s amazing when you see a kid in such awe of these athletes, but I didn’t know whether to smile, or be sad at the sight, knowing there is only an 8% chance any baseball player will ever wear a major league jersey. Either way, I hope these players know how much of a role model they are to these kids (ahem… are you listening, Michael Phelps?).
It’s interesting to be in an employee position here, where I can stand from afar and take in what being a “fan” really is. It’s fun to see the older fans come out to practice in the morning, people that have probably been coming, faithfully, for years, and fun to see Dad’s bringing their sons to what is maybe their first glance at Major League Baseball, and everyone in between.
Vin Scully (in For Love of the Game): “After 19 years in the big leagues, 40 year old Billy Chapel has trudged to the mound for over 4000 innings. But tonight, he’s pitching against time, he’s pitching against the future, against age, against ending. Tonight, he will make the fateful walk to the loneliest spot in the world, the pitching mound at Yankee Stadium, to push the sun back into the sky and give us one more day of summer.”