God invented baseball.
Of that, there is no doubt. And those poor misguided souls who believe there are no absolutes—absolutely don’t have a clue!
90 feet between bases could only be a Divine inspiration. Ponder on it for a second. 100 feet from home to first and everyone is out. 80 feet and every runner is safe. Think of all the excitingly close plays at the initial sack we have enjoyed over the years. That is not by happenstance!
Baseball is a gift from Heaven. God knew before Cap Anson, Albert Spalding and Cy Young pulled on their first uniform that 90 feet was the number!
And listen, 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is no accident either. You back the pitcher up 10 feet and Nolan Ryan might have trouble sneaking his fast ball past major league hitters. Move it up 10 feet and Aunt Matilda can throw it by you.
It is 127 feet, 3 and 3/8 inches from home plate to second base. Odd number you think? Not if you like exciting slides into second. A fairly quick big league pitcher can get the ball to the catcher’s mitt in 1.5 seconds. A good catcher can throw to second in 2.0 seconds. If you want to steal a base in the majors, you need to cover the above discussed 90 feet in 3.4 seconds or less.
The poetry in this game never stops.
God might have used Doc Adams and Alexander Cartwright to write down some baseball basics for us. He allowed those early New York Knickerbockers and Cincinnati Red Stockings to have some leeway in how they interpreted the game to get things going…..but He was always in charge!
It was the same way back home. We didn’t play in Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field. As a matter of fact Paul David Campbell’s backyard was so small we had to declare a ball hit off the garage a ground rule double. If we’d backed the pitcher’s mound to the official distance, we’d’a been throwing the ball out of a mimosa tree.
God allows you to “make do.”
We didn’t have near enough guys for two whole teams in that field over by the Pajama Factory. We’d declare right field foul territory, choose up sides and play till it got so dark you couldn’t see the ball.
And listen, don’t buy into that “it’s just a game” nonsense. We learned to share bats, balls, gloves, ideas and opinions on that field. We had to get along. Everyone made concessions. Everybody had a voice. We learned to play every position. We umpired our own contest. We settled arguments quickly and decisively—nothing got in the way of the game!
We accepted victory graciously because we’d experienced the other side of that coin. I’ve been the last guy chosen on a given day. I could write a book on what goes through your mind as each person is selected before you. I’ve also been the first pick.
The last thing we thought about (or wanted to do) at that old field was grow up. But, if the truth was told, that was mostly what we were doing.
We graduated to Little League, Babe Ruth League and American Legion Baseball. I remember the rich pretty girl who would come to see me play and complain the game was too long, we could be at the movies or we were missing the dance in Lexington. I also remember the pretty poor girl who never missed an inning. She cheered for me even when I struck out. Guess which one I ended up with…..
Another Major League baseball season kicks off this week. And sure, we can talk about the ridiculous 300 and 400 million dollar contracts. We can discuss agents, personal trainers, team dieticians, hundred dollar ticket prices and the business side till we’re blue in the face. But that’s not baseball.
We didn’t give a whistling hoot about agents or dieticians when we were chasing down a shot to the left field gap in the old days. And we don’t now either.
The game is about the wind in your face; the sweat rolling across your brow; the sun so bright you have to squint out towards the pitcher’s mound….
God didn’t invent baseball at that hallowed old field across from the Pajama Factory…..but that is where He perfected it!
Let’s Play Two,