Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Baseball Markers. . . .

I realized yesterday that baseball serves to remind me of how fast and fleeting life is. As a kid, I remember Sunday School teachers and youth pastors teaching about the brevity of life and mentioning Psalm 103:15&16 - "As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." It was one of those biblical truths that I knew I had to believe in spite of the fact that my youthful age, the relatively slow passing of time, and the expectation of a long life seemed to say otherwise. And then time flew by and I find myself standing here - over and over again - realizing how lightening fast life really is.

I'm not sure why, but I'm prompted to ponder the length and brevity of life by two things: music and baseball. I hear a song and I'm whisked back to memories and emotions of the period when that music was a big part of my life.

And then there's baseball. . . the game I've loved more than any other sport since my allegiance to the Philadelphia Phillies began in the early 1960s. The years of my life are segmented into periods based on certain players and lineups. The 1960's with Callison, Bunning, Short, and Allen. The 1970s and 1980s with Bowa, Schmidt, and Luzinski. The mid-90s with that gang of who-knows-whats who almost won it all. And then the present version of the team.

I also mark my years based on stadiums. I've been through three - Connie Mack, the Vet, and Citizen's Bank Park. And after yesterday, I've now moved into the third epoch of broadcasting teams. The death of Phillies play-by-play man Harry Kalas made me realize that life is flying by so fast. In a way, Harry Kalas has always been the new guy in my mind. . . even though I've been listening to him for almost forty years. I still haven't gotten over the displacement of my boyhood broadcasting trio of By Saam, Bill Campbell, and Whitey Ashburn. Those guys spent a lot of time inside my trusty little transistor radio. . . (hmmm, did I just say "transistor radio?" There's another indicator that life whizzes by fast). Then came Kalas. Now he's gone. And if that wasn't enough to leave another big mark on the baseball timeline of my life, that crazy breath of fresh air known as "The Bird," pitcher Mark Fidrych, was killed yesterday in an accident on his Massachusetts farm. He was 54-years-old. . . . really? Didn't he just pitch last week???

Life is fast. Thanks be to God for the words that follow Psalm 103:15&16 - "But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear Him."

And now to enjoy some baseball memories. . . .



3 comments:

Dan said...

Walt- as a fellow Phillies fan and youth pastor, thanks. great thoughts. RIP HK

Rob said...

Walt - nice post. You and I are about the same age and I have similar "markers" and emotions growing up in Detroit with Tiger Stadium, broadcasters Ernie Harwell and George Kell (the latter passed away last week), and Mark "the Bird" Fidrych. I still remember vividly watching his rookie pitching debut when he shut out Cleveland. He was the lone bright spot on a dismal team. It does seem like only yesterday.

To paraphrase the prophet Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and enjoy baseball once and awhile, you could miss it."

njjim3 said...

i'm amazed how much life flies by and baseball is used a marker in my life. i remember the day i went to my 1st game, my sr year of HS was built around the WS, 1st year of college the same...my 1st year of marriage and boston/yanks championship series in 03...

and i just got to take my wife and 3 year old daughter to opening day at the new yankee stadium...i'm sure that day (and unfortuately the score) will mark a HUGE day in the life of my family and kids.

thanks for validating my marker system:)