Baseball? Baseball is boring! I hate baseball!
This is what I would have told you a little more than a year ago if you asked me about America’s pastime. Most people grew up with baseball; it was something that was part of their lives every summer for as long as they could remember. Grandpa listened to the games on the radio because that’s how he always did it back in his day, Dad took you out back with an old mitt two sizes too big and Mom wrangled your younger siblings in the stands while you played little league. That’s America. That’s baseball.
Not for me, and probably not for many who came from immigrant families. I am the youngest of four children and the only one to have been born in the states. I lived my entire life in a small Northern California town, just hours from the bay. So how did I miss out on baseball? Well, the exact same reason I missed out on Disneyland as a kid — we were poor.
Growing up, I was always ribbed about Indians being smart and wealthy because we are all doctors, engineers or business owners. Not my family. Mom and Dad came over poor and uneducated, the product of a traditional arranged marriage at 16 years old. Dad put straight to work as the eldest so his brothers could attend school and Mom just never got the opportunities because the home needed tending to. But they did their best to take care of me and my sisters — we always had a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothing on our backs.
But I never knew my grandparents, who lived overseas (did they listen to cricket on the radio?). Mom and Dad worked all day, every day, so there was no backyard ball or little league. Nobody in my family knew what baseball was and nobody had the time to care. Spending three hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon watching a game was three hours of not being paid at some menial job. But it isn’t Mom and Dad’s fault; all they ever wanted for me was an education and a better life. I never felt poor growing up and I thank them for that.
You would think that, with being American-born and raised, baseball would have been present in my life, yet it never was. Somehow my parents managed to scrape together enough to get us a Nintendo when I was 5 years old, and that became my pastime. I sat indoors and played games. My friends sat indoors and played games. Sometimes we would sit together indoors and play games. I only remember playing one baseball game on NES at a friend’s house, which was the extent of baseball in my childhood (or playing sports in general). So while Nolan Ryan was throwing no-hitters and Cal Ripken became the hero baseball needed, I was still trying to beat Super Mario Bros.
Fast forward 15 years and I had made Mom and Dad proud by finishing college and landing a job that led me to my first baseball game — to see the Sacramento River Cats. But it was your typical company outing where everyone was just there to drink and very few cared about the game. I looked down at the field confused. I couldn’t tell you which players were on the home team, and it baffled me why they all stood around playing catch among themselves. What a boring and useless game. But who cares; the boss is buying a round of Miller Lite! Over the years there were a few other moments like that: going to games with people from work and just drowning in beer, not knowing what was happening on the field.
Last year, I came across a handful of free tickets to the River Cats and decided it was a great opportunity to take my team out for a treat that had been absent in recent years due to budget cuts. I expected to be fairly bored, but I knew my squad enjoyed the game and would appreciate the gesture, so off we went. But it was different this time. There was no party deck. There was nobody handing out $2 Thirsty Thursday beers. It was just us guys in the stands, watching the game. In an attempt to pass the time I asked questions and paid attention to what was happening. Slowly it began to make sense — white pants were the home team! They play catch to stay warmed up between innings! The energy of everyone in the stands to rally the home team was amazing!
And so it began. I was a casual 49ers fan so it seemed natural to root for the Giants. That weekend I watched the Giants on TV, armed with a tablet to Google everything and anything. I began to learn the game and enjoy it more and more. I went to my first Giants game later that summer. Bumgarner threw a great game and Tomlinson hit a grand slam. It was fantastic! When the season ended, I bought a PS4 and MLB 15: The Show just so I could continue learning the game. I signed up for MLB Network and watched every “Top XX of 2015” that played over and over. I couldn’t get enough of it, and I couldn’t wait for the new season to begin.
So here we are now, a little more than a year after I fell in love with the game at the age of 30. It’s only June but I have been to nine MLB games across five stadiums this year and nearly as many River Cats games. It may be a bit much, but I feel like I am making up for 30 years of not having the game in my life. I may not have years of fond memories of the game, but at least I can look forward to making some for years to come.
Baseball? Baseball is great! I love baseball!
If you would like to contribute to this series, please contact /u/ashleyramone on Reddit or e-mail us at PostgameThread@gmail.com