… the joys of experiencing baseball often extend much farther, its common faith accessible to anyone who simply revels in the beauty and gifts of the game … — John Sexton, President NYU
I find myself wrapped up in books this summer. That’s when I’m not watching or at a baseball game. My twofer is a baseball book by John Sexton, Baseball as a Road To God. You don’t have to be a believer or a seeker to read it: a true baseball fan can find a lot in this book.
One chapter on conversion follows the author’s conversion from Dodgers to Yankees fan, prompted by the Dodgers exiting Brooklyn in his boyhood by his young son. Sexton needed a team to share with his son, and so he converted.
I identified, having undergone a similar conversion because of my son. Once a diehard Yankees fan, I converted when my son was very young, a little of a year old, at his first game. Like a bolt from the blue that coincided with actual lightening that night, I realized that this was an unexpected part of parenthood, and so I switched to the Sox (still keeping an eye on the team in the Bronx). And we got to see a World Series victory. So much for The Curse of the Babe.
My daughter prompted me to adopt the Nationals. Having sent her off to college in Washington, DC, I eventually realized that she would make that city her home. Ours is a baseball family, and she was a Sox fan. But last summer, she took me to a National’s home game. The excitement of the young franchise was electric. I teased her about switching allegiances, she said that she still loves the Sox (she often sees them play in Baltimore) but the Nationals are her adopted team. And so I adopted them, too.
In Boston, I know where to get the best hot roasted peanuts; in DC I haven’t quite figured out the little secrets yet. But I always look forward to local specialties, something recent at the ballpark. In Boston, Legal Seafoods Clam Chowder, best at a night game or cool spring and autumn games. And in DC, it’s Ben’s Chili Bowl. Long a Washington tradition, best hot dogs ever.
So one of “the joys of experienceing baseball” might be to enjoy one of these “gifts of the game,” the local treat available at the park. Heading for one soon.