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The Boys of Summer

Some may call me old, others, a purist. Regardless of what you call me, I’m not ashamed to say that I miss the good ole days of baseball!

I come from an era where players weren’t doping. They weren’t playing for endorsements and they weren’t playing to be traded next year.

Well, maybe some of that is false, but it didn’t seem like it back then. Maybe it’s because I was young and naïve as a young baseball fan then, but baseball today just doesn’t feel the same as it did when we were kids.

Like a lot of boys growing up in America, baseball was a big part of my life. I played Little League from the time I could fit a Pee Wee bat in my pudgy little hands.

And going to pro games was the highlight of my summer. Heading into the ball park my dad’s shoulders was as much a part of the experience as the actual game. Seeing the vendors and watching the parade of fans march down the street made me feel like the 50,000 people going to the same place, was one big family I was a part of.

Back then I knew players’ names. I could pronounce them for the most part and it felt like they knew me. And actually, a few of them did.

As a kid, we would have banquets at the end of our baseball season. At these banquets we would receive our trophies and eat hot dogs until we felt sick to our stomachs on the ride home. But in-between all that was something special.

Every year there were a few major league players were generous enough to offer their time to make a group of little kids the happiest in the world. For a big time baseball player that we idolized showing to support us was a huge deal to say the least.

And every single one of these guys, regardless of their batting average or level of fame, struck a chord in our hearts and brought wonder to our eyes.

I find it hard to believe that our baseball league had to pay them very much to show up. It’s very doubtful these players were paid much, if anything at all. Yet, you could see on the looks of their faces that they were just as happy as we were.

The joy on their faces that they could make a group of kids this happy was pure and real. They weren’t there for profit, or even to endorse anything. They were there for us and that was it!

I can remember spring time rolling around and getting that feeling of excitement. Much like Jimmy Fallon in “Fever Pitch.” That day when the season tickets arrived was the best feeling in the world. Spring training was a reminder that summer was approaching and baseball would be here very soon.

Now, I just search for that old feeling. I sit myself down on the couch, turn on a game and hope that one of these times that magical feeling will reappear.

But much to my dismay, it never does. I just see a bunch of overpaid crybabies wearing long pants and goofy looking hats.

“What happened to stirrups and knee high baseball pants?”  I find myself asking this question almost every time I watch a game these days.

The uniform was part of what made the game special. Now, you don’t even see it. It’s a long gone tradition that is yet another reason the game just doesn’t feel like what it used to be.

I guess as you grow older, you search for those times as a kid that made you feel good. The memories made through baseball could never be created in today’s world. I know it will never feel that way again, yet I keep trying to bring back that ol’ feeling.

Then again, maybe I’m just a jaded grownup looking to re-live my childhood.  I find myself wondering if it’s the game and the industry surrounding it that’s really changed that much or whether it’s me.

Can we adults ever find the same joy in it as we did when we were innocent youngsters?  Is it just that we know more now or has baseball become something else, something lesser?

Regardless, I refuse to pay $10 for a small beer and $5 for a hotdog anymore.

It’s reached a point that the average family cannot afford to see a live baseball game. They aren’t missing much in my opinion. You’re better off popping in an old VHS of Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field.

Now that’s what baseball is all about!

About the Author:  Joshua Reading is a baseball fanatic and sports writer who contributes to several online publications.  He’s also the co-founder of Bet Confident, a leader in sports handicapping online.  And despite the fact that today’s ball games don’t live up to his memories, he’ll always be a diehard fan of the game.  For more info, visit www.Betconfident.com.

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