by Joe Bridano - Growing up during the 1950s and 1960s was a special time to be a young baseball fan. Despite living in the financial center of the world, and boasting the best museums, medical centers, restaurants, media, and architecture the most vivid memories for me seem to always be about baseball. There was a special scent in the air every spring. It was a unique "recipe" that created the olfactory signals that confirmed it was time, once again, to play ball.
What created the scent of springtime? I am not sure about the actual mix of ingredients, but I have my own theory about that. Could it be that the street vendors added the smells of their wares to the ever present smog in just the right mix, and when the temperatures reached just the right level of warmth the special scent of springtime was made?
The scent of springtime is special, and is made even better by the addition of leather gloves and grass stained clothes. A signal went off in every boy's mind that it was time to oil you glove, get your bat and ball, and begin the annual "right of passage" that confirmed that it was time, once again, for baseball.
Those were the "golden" years for baseball. At least, they were for me. It did not matter whether you were a Yankees fan, or a Dodgers fan, or a Giants fan, or later on a Mets fan, we shared a common love of the game. Everyone knew how to catch and throw, and how to swing a bat. We practiced the swings of our favorite stars and learned the things that every ball player must know. After all, we were going to be in the big leagues some day, and this was our spring training.
The daily headlines in the sports pages and checking of the "standings" added to the passion. Yes, there were rivalries and we each had our favorite centerfielder. Who was the best, was it Mickey, Willie, or the Duke?
By the way, this daily voracious appetite for team information supported and grew reading and math skills, as sports stats were discussed and compared. Who knew that we were getting educated while enjoying our passion for the game?!
What a travesty is was when the Dodgers and Giants deserted us for the west coast. If either of these teams were "your team" it was like being abandoned on a strange street corner with no chance to find your way home. The trauma was less severe for young Yankee fans, but the loss was felt deeply, nonetheless.
The birth of the Mets in 1962 marked the end of the formal period of mourning and began a new era for disenfranchised National League fans. To this day, scars from the Dodgers and Giants seceding from New York influences fans, and may be the basis for the ongoing feud that seems to separate New York fans into their chosen loyalty for either the Yankees or the Mets.
Healthy rivalries are fine, since it is baseball that continues to thrive. Few interests are so universal that they can actually cross generation boundaries. Baseball is a game based on history, statistics, records, and personalities that live for the ages. A ten year old baseball fan can share stories with his father or grandfather with no barriers of age. It is a magical experience that strengthens family bonds and fosters understanding. Where else does such a powerful communication tool exist?
Even though many decades have passed since I first experienced the scent of springtime, it remains a fond memory that is revisited every year at this time. Baseball is part of every New Yorker, whether they realize it or not. Some may not grasp or appreciate the wonderful foundation this great sport imparts on our culture.
Take a deep breath and allow the scent to trigger your senses. After all, it is springtime! It is the start of something new that is enhanced by what has come before. It allows me to revisit a simpler time and, in some ways, to remain forever young. The scent of springtime always reminds me why this is the best time of the year.
English: A baseball that has been extensively used
|Date||25 September 2010 (original upload date)|
|Source||Transferred from en.wikipedia; transfer was stated to be made by User:Gavin.perch|
|Author||Schyler at en.wikipedia|