Baseball offers ‘religious’ experience for fans

As a sports fan, I get excited whenever any new sports season starts, whether it’s football, baseball or college hoops. However, every April I realize that there’s something different about baseball, and I think this year I finally figured out what it is.

Football’s short season packs in a lot of excitement into just 16 games. Watching football is something you almost always do with friends, and usually every game turns into a big event in itself. Baseball, however, is something different. Maybe it’s the length of the season, maybe it’s the time of the year, but baseball offers something much more that is difficult to put down on paper.

For me, baseball has always been a sport that was just there. Its long season meant that no matter where I was or what I was doing, I could always count on a game being around for me to watch. That sense of safety gave baseball almost a motherly feeling to me. No matter how bad or complicated things got in life, I could always count on the game to be there.

Whether it was seeing the game on TV or actually being at the ballpark, baseball has always offered a tranquil experience that no other sport could dream of offering. Maybe it’s the memories baseball brings me – watching the game on TV with a cool summer breeze blowing outside and not a care in the world – or the simplistic (and often mislabeled “boring”) game itself. Being a Yankee fan in northern New Jersey also meant baseball was a way of life for everyone, and watching a game often felt like a religious experience. Call it the Emerson/MLB transcendental experience even. Baseball was often a gateway to my own world – just me, the pitcher, the batter and the strike zone.

I’m not a very religious person, so I cannot imagine what it must be like to be “saved” by God. However, I do recall my first time visiting Yankee Stadium. As I walked into the ballpark that afternoon and gazed upon the greenest grass I’d ever seen in my life, I experienced a rush I can only describe as baseball’s version of spiritualism. Call it “Babe Ruthism” if you will. It was a rush of history, excitement and wonder, extending from the past to the present and future. The feeling I got that day is something I will never forget, and it explains my love of the game perfectly.

It feels great to be reminded that baseball will continue to always be there, from now until I’m 100 years old. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it even more as I get older and I get the opportunity to pass this experience onto my children and grandchildren.