Column: A love for America’s game

Published 6:41 pm Friday, February 26, 2021

Whether it’s the pop of baseballs hitting gloves or the song “Centerfield” by John Fogerty blaring through the speakers, there is no better sound than that of baseball season.

Spring air carries the smell of fresh cut grass, hotdogs sizzling on a grill and the smoke from kettle corn popping. Time slows as pitch after pitch are delivered from the mound. Action in the game grows and falls like the rhythmic sound of cicadas in summer time.

I love baseball for many reasons, but I love it most because it is a game of romance. It is a game that transcends the diamond, the players and the managers. Baseball is an American pastime, but I would also argue it is the cornerstone of our culture.

In baseball, each game has a different story just like each person has a different story. Hitters have good and bad days. Pitchers overcome adversity in innings, and coaches face difficult choices to tinker with a lineup or not.

Late inning rallies and walk offs are a thrill, but so is a back and forth pitchers duel where one missed pitch can change the game entirely. Moments are etched in stone, inscribed in a tablet of lore.  The majority of us were not there to see Babe Ruth point to the outfield and call his shot, yet we can all picture the moment in our heads.

I can still see a baseball crushed by Elijah MacNamee fly by the press box window in a Mississippi State super regional win over Stanford to go to Omaha so clearly. I can see the walk off homeruns I witnessed at Baum Stadium, where Arkansas plays, like I saw them in the present. Very few sport moments stick out in my mind like ones from baseball do.

Thursday night was the first time in my life I have ever reported on a high school baseball game. While Cathedral blew out Bogue Chitto, fans could see moments of sportsmanship, players laughing and joking. All of these kids were playing for the love of the game, and having fun while doing so.

Sports are also an escape from the harsh reality of our world. Last week the same field was covered in ice as was the Miss-Lou area and Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley was concerned about the community’s safety.

Sports are a part of healing for any community. The presence of sports represents a return to normalcy. After last week’s events and last year’s challenges, America needs to get back to the baseball stadium, relax and enjoy the view from the cheap seats.

Hunter Cloud is a sports reporter for The Natchez Democrat.