Baseball. America’s favorite pastime. The sport is worshiped in the United States and some areas around it but that’s pretty much it. Big-time sports nations like England, Australia and of course India have little to no culture of playing baseball. I feel that no sport, let alone, a sport as enjoyable and lovable as baseball, should be restricted to just a few countries. But we’ll come back to that later. For now, you get to read my experience with baseball.
I am an Indian, so cricket is in my blood. I have grown up watching cricket, and if you look up at the top of your screen on the search bar, you’ll see that my blog is also named after cricket. But what I never liked was being restricted to watching one sport. So when I travelled to USA for the first time, it was like heaven for 7-year old me. Basketball, Football, Ice Hockey, and of course baseball. I had become a sports fanatic. I didn’t care that we were on a ferry ride to the Statue Of Liberty. I just wanted that New York Knicks cap I saw in some shop on the other side of the coast. I didn’t care that we were going to miss our shuttle to Disneyland in Orlando. I just wanted that Miami Dolphins helmet.
As you might be able to tell by now, I liked all the sports US had to offer. But baseball was the one I liked the most. My uncle deserves a big mention right about now. Bharat Chacha, as I call him was the one to introduce me to baseball. He taught me all the rules. I took to this sport quickly too, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to go see a game.
Lucky for me, I was in the city of America’s Favourite Ballpark, you guessed it, Fenway Park in Boston. The match was between the Red Sox and the White Sox. You can see how a 7-year old kid would find that funny, right? It didn’t help that the Red Sox were wearing white socks and the White Sox were wearing red socks in the game. The Red Sox won 6-2 and I was on top of the world. After my stay in US was over, I went back to India where I tried hard to watch baseball somehow, but there was just no channel that covered the games.
A year went by, and once again, I found myself on a flight to the US. Last time, we had travelled to the east coast and this time, we were going to the west coast. On the flight, I watched ‘Angels In The Outfield’, a movie about the baseball team, Los Angeles Angels. So by the time, I landed in Los Angeles, I felt I had brushed up on my previous knowledge of baseball. This stay was a little different compared to the last one, as far as I can remember. This time, I wasn’t focused on all the sports there were, but only baseball. I even got a LA Dodgers jersey for my build-a-bear. I went to a game at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
But the biggest baseball experience of my life came when we were in San Francisco and I saw an ad in some magazine. It was for a tour of the Oracle (then AT&T) Park. I went crazy. And so I was on a tour of a ballpark, actually stepping on the grass, running around the bases, even going down to the clubhouse. Of course, then, I didn’t appreciate it as much as I would have if I went now.
Fast forward five years and I’m on a flight to US again. I am going to Boston for a workshop on sports statistics. The workshop I attended had a trip to Fenway Park included. My father had told me repeatedly the whole of last month that I should bring out the duster and dust up my knowledge of baseball. But I had been lazy and had not looked at any baseball-related articles or anything. When we landed, I got an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. The glass it came in said, ‘Boston Red Sox – 2018 World Series Champions’. I acted like I completely knew what it was in front of my dad, but the truth was that for all I knew, the world series could have been the Red Sox playing the employees of Dunkin’ Donuts in a monthly occurence.
When I reached my uncle’s home, I put on a baseball game straight away on the TV. I expected it all to come back to me in an instant, but it didn’t. I was really confused about the whole thing. The next day, I went off to my workshop. 2 days passed and it was finally time for that visit to Fenway. I had searched up ‘red sox’ on google and seen their last few results but that was necessarily all I knew in the baseball world at that time.
Luckily, I had made a friend in the workshop. Liam was a local Boston resident and obviously, a Red Sox fan. I asked him all the questions I needed the answers to if I was going to walk into that ballpark. He told me mostly about the current Red Sox squad and a little about their history. I still didn’t know much about how baseball was played and how it worked but I was going to a game, so I knew I would figure it out. The game was between, take a wild guess, the Red Sox and the White Sox. The atmosphere at the field was insane. As the game went on, I kept learning and learning and learning. Raffy Devers kept getting on base, Christian Vasquez kept drivbing him in, David Price had a great outing on the mound and Xander Bogaerts launched a homer above the green monster. But the best part of the day was when I sat on the Red Seat out in Right Field. Liam explained the history behind. All the seats in right field were painted green but that one was left red because that was the seat where the longest home run in the history of Fenway Park landed, hit by Ted Williams. Nobody can walk into Fenway Park, and not walk out a Red Sox fan. That was the case with me exactly.
After the workshop ended, I tried keeping up with the games but we had to travel so much, and I didn’t have any time to watch TV. Also, I couldn’t watch any Red Sox games because we were now in Ocean City, which fell in the catchment area of the New York Yankees. I was a more loyal sports fan now, and I wasn’t about to let the Red Sox down like that. So I ended up only following Red Sox play-by-plays on my phone.On the last day of the trip, as we were leaving for India, I bought a PS4 game called MLB The Show. It was the official baseball game.
They always say, you realise how much you like something only when it’s gone. In India, I could no more watch any baseball games or talk to anyone about it or anything else. I used to get up at 5:35 in the morning to see the Red Sox play-by-plays while getting ready for school. That was all I had linking me to the baseball world. And also my game. I played MLB The Show like a madman. I learnt so much more about baseball through that game.
One of the biggest credits for keeping my interest in baseball has to go to a YouTuber called Fuzzy. He makes daily videos about whatever happens in the MLB and the whole baseball world. I learnt about so much from him. GiraffeNeckMarc and TDBarrett were also really fun to watch and also really informative. Dodgerfilms was another excellent YouTuber. Basically, I can love baseball even though I can’t watch it or play it because of people like them.
Now coming back to the original question, why does it have to be that way? The MLB has taken great initiatives of spreading the game. Series have happened in Japan, in London and other places too. I hope that India is also somewhere on the MLB’s radar. There are honestly a lot of baseball fans here in India, they just don’t know it yet, just like I didn’t.
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