9:52am

Mon October 31, 2011
Opinion

Major League Longing: What Comes After Game Seven

Glenn Stout has served as the editor of the Best American Sports Writing series since 1991. His latest book is Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year.

Baseball is over again and — for a while — so am I.

As long as I can remember, this game has been my companion. The maple trees in the backyard where I grew up were known only as first base, second and third. The clothesline was an imaginary Green Monster. I fell asleep each night to the static of a distant game on an old radio and dreamed of the roaring crowd. Even now, when I think of "home" I don't think of a house. I think of the bare spot I wore in the grass while batting, the place I ran back to after every imaginary home run.

Now another season has ended. As the sounds that only baseball makes disappear, there is a stillness left behind that feels like nothing else, and I know again I am alone.

The days that used to start with stats and coffee turning cold as I perused the blogs and box scores are done. The morning doesn't mean it's time to "check the West Coast scores." It means "get up and go to work." The news is not for highlights and home runs, but wars and famines and politics.

The walks I took with the dog so I could throw the ball and pretend I was cutting down the lead runner at third become simple games of fetch. The phone calls with friends that started with "Can you believe that hit?" and "What was he thinking?" end quickly or aren't made at all. I turn my car radio from AM back to FM. My wife and daughter control the television remote, and I catch up on my reading. And instead of lying awake at night and wondering how in the world he could miss that pitch, I slip into a fast slumber.

It's over, but we've been through this before, baseball and I, and I'm sure I'll survive the winter soon to come. I know, even as the whoops and hollers of baseball's newest world champion fade, that somewhere in the silence that follows, another season will start to make its sound.

There will be trades, Tommy John surgeries and free agent signings for too much money. Even though there will be snow upon the ground, there will also be talk about pitchers and catchers reporting, aging veterans and rookie phenoms.

Something deep inside me will start to stir, and then I'll hear it again; a voice on a playground, a bat meeting a ball, a cheer and a slap on the back. At first it will be faint and far off, but as the days get longer, the sounds of baseball will be back beside me. Soon enough, we will both be ready for another season.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Tony La Russa's retirement marks the end of an era and for author and editor, Glenn Stout, the last days of La Russa's career coincided with another ending, one that comes every year, but remains painful, nonetheless. He has this essay on life after the baseball season ends.

GLENN STOUT: Baseball is over again and for a while, so am I. As long as I can remember, this game has been my companion. The maple trees in the back yard where I grew up were known only as first base, second and third. The clothesline was an imaginary green monster. I fell asleep each night to the static of a distant game on an old radio and dreamed of the roaring crowd.

Even now, when I think of home, I don't think of a house. I think of the bare spot I wore in the grass while batting, the place I ran back to after every imaginary home run.

Now, another season is ending. As the sounds that only baseball makes disappear, there is a stillness left behind that feels like nothing else and I know again I am alone. The days that used to start with stats and coffee turning cold as I perused the blogs and box scores are done. The morning doesn't mean it's time to check the West Coast scores. It means, get up and go to work. The news is not for highlights and home runs, but wars and famines and politics. The walks I took with the dog so I could throw the ball and pretend I was cutting down the lead runner at third become simple games of fetch. The phone calls with friends that started with, can you believe that hit? And what was he thinking? End quickly or aren't made at all.

I now turn my car radio from AM back to FM. My wife and daughter control the television remote and I catch up on my reading. Instead of lying awake at night and wondering how in the world he could miss that pitch, I slip into a fast slumber.

It's over, but we've been through this before, baseball and I. And I'm sure I'll survive the winter soon to come. I know, even as the whoops and hollers of baseball's newest world champion fade, that somewhere in the silence that follows, another season will start to make its sound.

There will be trades, Tommy John surgeries and free agent signings for too much money. Even though there will be snow upon the ground, there will also be talk about pitchers and catchers reporting, aging veterans and rookie phenoms. Something deep inside me will start to stir and then I'll hear it again. A voice on a playground, a bat meeting a ball, a cheer and a slap on the back. At first, it will be faint and far off, but as the days get longer, the sounds of baseball will be back beside me. Soon enough, we will both be ready for another season.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Glenn Stout is the editor of the Best American Sportswriting series. His latest book is "Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season and Fenway's Remarkable First Year." You can comment on his essay at our website. Just go to NPR.org and click on Opinion. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

Related Program