I’m a baseball fan. There, I said it. More specifically, I’ve been a Chicago Cubs fan since my best friend, J.B. Barry introduced me to them back in 1981. He and his family moved down to Johnson City from the Chicagoland area. With WGN being one of the “super” stations of the time, it was always easy to catch a Cubs game on TV.

While many sports are becoming more popular every year, baseball seems to be in a steady decline. I know, it’s a long sport. The season stretches from April through October. That’s 162 games! With each game going nine innings, that is a lot of time spent on the baseball diamond.

I get why a lot of people don’t like the game, but for me I think it goes back to my love of history. Baseball was brought into a world without much of what we take for granted today. Radio was just in its infancy. Television was a long way away. Heck, even the telephone came around 5 years after America’s pastime debuted.

With all of those technologies beginning, people had to find other ways to entertain themselves, and baseball was the perfect fit. Between moments of action, there’s plenty of time to chat with your friends about what’s going on in the world, in the city, and even in our own lives. It’s from a much slower time, when most people walked to where they wanted to go, or if you really needed to travel, you rode a train.

For me, there is something about the rhythm of a game, the smell of a new leather glove, the roar of the crowd as a ball heads towards the outfield. It’s a sport from a bygone era in America. When we weren’t in such a hurry. When we had time to spend with each other.

I hope you get a chance to see a local baseball game! In our area, the Appy League has a rich history of baseball. It’s the beginnings of a minor league career, hopefully leading to a major league debut. But the players put their heart and soul into the game they love. Right now, Bluefield leads the East and Elizabethton leads the West. The local stadiums put a lot of effort into giving fans their money’s worth, with new amenities, promotions, and giveaways to make any trip to the ballfield something to remember.

Baseball is an American icon. It is the Statue of Liberty, the bald eagle, “In God We Trust,” Mount Rushmore, ice cream, apple pie, hot dogs, and rally monkeys. BASEBALL IS AMERICA.

VICTOR ALEXANDER BALTOV, JR., Baseball Is America