Someone yelling, “Let’s play ball,” officially announces spring. Springtime and baseball seem to go together, as if God created springtime just for the national pastime. Something about that first baseball game seems to shake away all the gloomy aspects of the past winter.
As soon as Old Man Winter strikes out for the last time, good old springtime steps up to the plate and a new game is afoot. Of course, baseball is for the young. One downside of growing older is the fact that you grow out of certain things. For example, as you grow older you grow out of wearing short pants. You can tell an old man is trying to act young when he puts away long pants and dons short pants. Somebody needs to tell these men that knobby knees are not in fashion this year and the less seen the better, I assure you. As you grow older, you also grow out of a lot of free time. There is nothing like trying to make a living to put a crimp in your lifestyle. Once a man puts on his hat, grabs a lunchbox and walks out the door, he is in for a lifetime of work. Free time as he once knew it now has a price tag. One final thought about growing older — as you grow older you also grow out of extra cash jingling in your pocket. No matter how much a person makes, there seems to be more outgo than income in the average home today. I remember getting a raise once and when the first paycheck came, my take-home was less than before the raise. My raise put me in a higher tax bracket and hence a lower income each payday. Only one thing I know that can put a temporary pause in all this nonsense — simply an afternoon at the ballpark. Nothing like a good old ballgame to take away all the anxiety of trying to make a living. When I was younger, I was out in the field, playing ball. But I have outgrown that part of my life and find myself sitting in the stands, cheering on my favorite team. One of the benefits of becoming a grandfather is attending your grandchildren’s ballgames. Now that my knees creak and my pitching elbow don’t work like it used to, I’m way out of shape to play even one inning of a ballgame. Baseball demands younger knees and elbows that are more pliable. Fortunately for grandfathers, God has bestowed upon them grandchildren who play baseball. Several weeks ago, it was my privilege to watch my granddaughter play her first softball game. With a good hot cup of coffee and a seat where I could survey the whole process, I settled down to watch a relaxed softball game. Then, the game took on a new status. My granddaughter came up to bat and I was on the edge of my seat. At that point, the whole game changed for me. Sitting next to me, a man began yelling at the pitcher. “Go ahead, pitcher,” he screamed, “burn one across the plate, the batter’s a bum, she can’t hit nothing.” I had been away so long from a good ballgame I completely forgot about this element of the game. I demurely turned to the gentleman next to me and opined, “You shouldn’t yell at the kiddies that way. They’re just having fun.” Without even looking at me, he shot, “Mind your own business, Buster.” I’m not easily roused, but this man, what should I say, irritated me. Yes, that’s the word, “irritated.” Then, still not looking at me, he snipped, “The pitcher’s my daughter.” With all the dignity I could muster under the circumstances I retorted with, “But the batter is my granddaughter. And granddaughters out- rank daughters every time.” I noticed the information stunned him a little. Old Bubba was trying to process this and I could see he was having a little bit of trouble. I didn’t mind because for a moment he couldn’t think of anything to say, which is good no matter which side you’re cheering for. At this point, the situation turned ugly. And when I say ugly, I mean Mrs. Bubba inserted herself into the tête-à-tête. Let me say, I was not afraid of good old Bubba; it was Mrs. Bubba who put the fear of God into me at the time. This only illustrates the vast difference between men and women. Men can have a loud, obnoxious, chest puffing argument and then when it’s all over, go and buy each other a cup of coffee and slap each other on the back celebrating the winning team. Women are not like that; at least Mrs. Bubba was not like that. As best I recollect the situation, Mrs. Bubba, who was sitting on the other side of Bubba, leaned forward and simply said, “Oh yeah?” It was not what she said, or even how she said it that bothered me. The last thing I remember was her left hook interfacing with my left eye. Driving home, I mused on what the Apostle Paul wrote. “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:21-22 KJV.) Sometimes, one strike and you’re out.