Some see “America’s pastime” as just that: past its time. But every year, when the World Series rolls around, we still hear the passionate roars from legions of hungry supporters. We believe this support should be year-round and never-ending. So, to wake potential fans from their disillusionment, we have compiled our reasons for loving the game.
Why Bradshaw loves baseball: A magic found nowhere else
Baseball enchanted me the first time I stepped into a stadium. Even the stadiums have a special magic. Some teams have close walls to encourage extra home runs or have uneven designs to hamper left-handed players, such as Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. In other stadiums, a baseball diamond is superimposed over a football field, like Oakland’s Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. One of the neighborhood fields in Georgetown has a square chain link fence only half the distance from the home plate of a professional stadium and trees in the outfield. I do not envy the kids that play in that park. Each stadium gives teams a unique home-field advantage that is worth the experience of attending.
Bostonians love to tout the size of the Green Monster, an incredibly high wall in the left field of Red Sox stadium, which loves to steal home runs from players. In the Miami Marlins park, any erratic pitch has a chance of hitting a fish tank behind home plate!
Fish tanks are just the start, however. The major league stadiums serve as pseudo-theme parks. At the behest of my little sister, I played a lot of mini-golf at the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium as a kid. The Northwest Arkansas Naturals have a giant playground in their outfield concourse, where I spent many summer nights playing while watching future world champions start their careers. Often, teams will cap off their night games with a fireworks display, adding to the magic of being at the park.
The creativity of baseball isn’t just limited to playing spaces. Hundreds of professional baseball teams exist in this country, leading to some … unique names. From the Grasshoppers to the Space Cowboys to the Biscuits, anything you imagined in elementary school could be the next logo for a team (even the Savannah Bananas).
In baseball, the mascots come into the stands more often than in other sports, which leads to amazing fan interactions. I’ve seen Mr. Met, a man with a giant baseball for a head, play a trumpet in the middle of a cheering crowd. Big Red let me swing his bat. That’s not to mention the Washington Nationals’ presidential race tradition. Every game, four people in comically large mascot heads enshrined on Mount Rushmore run around the perimeter of the field. Shenanigans known only to baseball ensue, and the fans cheer on their favorite president as they race the way our elections should be held. The race is a part-time job, and yes, I did consider applying. Going to baseball games is one place where I still get a childlike joy, and so I will cherish the sport forever.
Why Andrew loves baseball: Honoring a legend of the game
Oct. 1 was a bittersweet day for me. Miguel Cabrera, the legendary Detroit Tigers slugger, made his final MLB appearance before retirement. Cabrera had a long and storied career that spanned my entire lifetime; his first MLB appearance was on June 20, 2003, six months before I was born.
Cabrera played 16 of his 21 seasons for the Tigers, my favorite team. He hit 511 home runs, won two MVP awards, and in 2012 he led the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. This won him the Triple Crown—the first since 1967. His career statistics are undeniably incredible, and watching Cabrera’s success when I was younger inspired me to become a baseball fan. I’ve kept following Cabrera and the Tigers since I was little, although the team’s recent struggles (the last time Detroit made the playoffs was in 2014) made it hard to stay interested.
However, earlier this year, Cabrera announced that this season would be his last before retiring. The announcement wasn’t a shock given that he is now 40 years old, but it was still sad to hear that such a legendary player was ending his career. I’ve been following along closely for Cabrera’s final season, trying to savor the last moments.
This season has been one big farewell tour for Cabrera. The entire league came together to honor him, and opposing teams even gave him retirement gifts before games; standout gifts include a saddle from the Texas Rangers and a fishing rod and tackle box from the Minnesota Twins. In his final game, a sellout crowd at Comerica Park in Detroit watched a 5-2 win against the Cleveland Guardians, where Cabrera received a standing ovation.
Only in baseball will fans and players across the league come together to honor my favorite player of all time. The sport can be slow sometimes, but that means there’s enough time to slow down and enjoy every minute of the game. It was great to see that the entire league, including rival teams, took the time to appreciate and honor a legend of the game. Cabrera’s playing days are now over, but his legacy will continue to have an impact on me, the Detroit Tigers, and the entire MLB.
Cabrera’s rise to stardom came at the perfect time when I was just starting to become interested in baseball. Nobody else will ever inspire me as much as Cabrera did, and that’s okay. New players will come along, become legends, and write their names in the history books alongside Cabrera’s. An exciting development in modern baseball, thanks to better scouting and player development, is that stars can come from anywhere, like Cabrera came from Venezuela two decades ago; as the World Baseball Classic showed, baseball is becoming an increasingly global game. I don’t have a new favorite player yet, but I’ll keep watching to find one. And there are so many other unique aspects of the sport to keep me entertained until I do.
This article is dedicated to Annabella Hoge (COL ’23), our dear former EIC who graduated last spring.