If you believe that baseball is the national pastime then you probably tuned in to some of the festivities in Cleveland, Ohio, this week. The annual All-Star game features the best of the best, players that have been voted into a game that showcases the skills and abilities of veteran players and sometimes a few of the youngsters of the game.
Watching the Home Run Derby Monday night, I was surprised that many of the contestants were new to the major leagues or were less known to those that follow a team. Even more surprising was the fact that a young 24- year old named Pete Alonso won the event, beating out another rookie named Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is 20 years old.
Despite the result, the event made for good television, with Guerrero setting the new all-time record of 29 home runs in and at bat, and then outlasting Joc Peterson in a battle that included two tie-breaker rounds, before he lost in the finals to Alonso.
Alonso, a New York Met first baseman, won a million dollars for his night’s work but also pledged 10 percent of his winnings to the Wounded Warriors Project and Tunnel to Towers which benefits first responders.
The Mets, who are having a tough season, announced Tuesday that they would offer 80 percent discounts for certain seats in their stadium for the rest of the home season in honor of Alonso’s home run feat.
For the few of us that grew up listening to baseball games on the radio or trying to tune their television to pick up the snowy signal from a distant city, today’s baseball media experience is amazing. There are numerous ways to see a game, stream a game or watch it on cable or even our phone, in color and surround sound.
However, nothing beats the chance to sit and watch a baseball game in person. Locally we can see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Or we can travel to Atlanta for a Braves game. Some folks even make attending major league games a vacation, setting out by car or plane to major league parks all around the country. Some have as their goal to visit every team.
If you have children who have played recreation league baseball, you are fan number one as they move through various age groups, always trying to play better and maybe even making their local all-star team. Some kids take the travel team route or move up to high school ball and college baseball.
Baseball fans have their favorite team, their favorite player. They buy the jersey with that player’s name on the back. They might collect baseball cards or treasure an autographed baseball or even a foul ball they were lucky to get at a game. They love statistics, remember batting averages, home run totals, ERA or any other statistic being used by teams today.
Growing older the baseball fan hopes his favorite player gets to the Hall of Fame, that his team will win the pennant and the World Series and his kids will root for the same team he did. Sometimes that is impossible, since teams like the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins and later the Texas Rangers; or the Brooklyn Dodgers, who moved all the way across the country to Los Angeles.
My all-star hope is that baseball is an integral part of your future and that maybe that player you root for today will someday have their baseball wish come true, whether it’s being part of a recreation league all-star team or hitting a home run for the team of their dreams, even if it is only a dream.