I’m emotionally drained this week. I blame it on baseball.
I’ve been a Dodger fan since I was 6 years old, which means I’ve been vulnerable for 62 years. Sometimes I wonder — why bother? It’s just a game. In such moments of doubt I turn Roger Angell.
Roger Angell turned 101 last month. His writing was first published in the New Yorker in 1944. He’s written on many topics, but a favorite has been baseball. He is the only writer elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1975 he wrote in an essay called “Agincourt and After”:
“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut […] is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. […] It no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”
Tuesday night I was with an ethnically diverser crowd 54,000 naïve and foolish people at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers played the Giants. We all watched the “haphazardous flight of a distant ball” for almost four hours. Win or lose, rooting for the Dodgers or Giants, we were united by a collective sense of passionately caring about something.
Thank you, Roger Angell, for your reassurance that this “foolish and childish” activity has a deeper purpose. Bring on Atlanta.
Photo credit: Wall Street Journal