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The title always seemed like the most reasonable baseball advice I ever heard. Since I was a lousy ballplayer, maybe I can apply that advice to a blog.
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Theaters and Ballparks

Posted 04-21-2009 at 11:48 AM by tebman
Updated 04-23-2009 at 12:29 PM by tebman

I was talking with a friend recently who doesn't follow baseball but humors me when I wax poetic about the White Sox. In the course of that conversation I referred him to the YouTube videos posted by "brokertothestars" that give a walk-through tour of old Comiskey Park in the last weeks of its life. If you haven't seen them, you should. There have been a couple of threads about these that are fun to read.

What I told my friend is that being at the ballpark is what makes baseball for me. The game, of course, it what matters, and I keep score and get deeply involved in its progress. But it's also the gestalt of the place that keeps bringing me back: the communal vibe in the crowd, the sense of history, the steel-and-concrete connection to the neighborhood. I've been going to games since I was a small child and what I remember about those games after nearly 50 years isn't the final score but the visceral emotion of being there.

The videos of the old ballpark illustrate that feeling better than I could ever describe. The gut-level memories of going to games are made up of sights and sounds, of course, but also of smells, vibrations, and shared emotions.

The same is true of going to games at USCF. I went to Opening Day in 1991, the first game in the new ballpark, feeling disoriented seeing the Old crumbling under the wrecking ball and walking into the gloss of the New. The game was terrible. The Sox were crushed by the Tigers 16-0. The 4th inning was especially bad, as the Tigers scored 10 runs, but after the third out was finally made there arose a derisive, sarcastic cheer. I smiled warmly because I knew that even though the ballpark had changed the experience had not. I was among friends, the ironical bunch I'd grown up with as Sox fans.

I know people who are performers and they tell me that they get the same vibe from the theater, whether it's 20 people in a church basement or 20,000 in an arena. There's something metaphysical about it that can cure what ails you, and all I know is that being at a ballgame does it for me. It's good to hang out with 30,000 of my closest friends as the White Sox take the field.
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  1. Old Comment
    As a theatre person, I can vouch for what your performer friends said about the theater. There is just this vibe that you feel being in any theater, be it backstage, onstage, or in the house.
    Posted 04-21-2009 at 12:41 PM by TommyJohn TommyJohn is offline
  2. Old Comment
    tebman's Avatar
    "Vibe" is really the only word that fits. Ballparks and theaters do that to me, too. No matter how decrepit the structures might be, seeing a ballpark or a theater being torn down is a truly sad sight: it snuffs out the vibe. For that reason I soak in as much of the experience as I can when I'm at a ballgame or a show.
    Posted 04-22-2009 at 09:30 AM by tebman tebman is offline

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