Greason: Remembering a true Fall Classic
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, November 4, 2016
Baseball … it’s America’s pastime.
Or is it?
When I think of the golden age of American sports, I think of the baseball greats: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams. Sure, Knute Rockne and company were already racking up wins and gaining popularity for football, but Wrigley Field — or Weeghman Park as it was known at the time — was seating over 41,000 people before Notre Dame Stadium was even built.
It seems to me that, in the past, entire communities revolved around a shared love for a baseball team. Events took place so as not to interfere with baseball games and people watched every pitch between Opening Day and Game Seven. My dad says that the best homily he ever heard was when Fr. Riech at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs stood at the podium and said: “Let’s say a Hail Mary for the Mets and get out of here,” to let everyone get home from Mass in time to watch the Mets take on the A’s in Game Seven of the 1973 World Series.
There was a time that baseball was so important to our society that when it became unsustainable during World War II due to lack of players, a women’s baseball league was started so that people would not have to go without baseball.
But it’s not like that today. Our lives do not revolve around baseball anymore. And it’s not that our lives do not revolve around sports, because for many people they do. People will spend hours, even entire weekends, camped out on the couch watching tackle after tackle, football game after football game.
An “A League of their Own”-style league would never come to be today. I would hazard a guess that we would go without baseball before women in skirts ever took the field in place of their male counterparts.
There a wide variety of reasons that baseball is not America’s pastime anymore, or at least not to the extent that it was in the past. For example, the average regular season baseball game clocks in at just under three hours and games continue to get longer each season. Most people simply don’t have that kind of time to spare.
But, at the same time, I think there must have been something special about the camaraderie and the inherent sense of competition that the joint love of the game created.
Over the past week or so, the country has fallen back in love with baseball and it’s been pretty special. Everyone was captivated by the World Series. The Cubs reached the World Series for the first time since 1945 and the Indians have not won a title since 1948. As opposed to recent World Series, the whole country can be invested in these teams, if not because they are fans, but because the storylines draw people in.
Walking around campus, it was nearly impossible to avoid the buzz about who would be watching the game and who would be flying the W with a long-awaited Cubs win. At least one professor even went so far as to allow students to start taking a nighttime exam early so that students would be able to watch all of Game Seven.
The Cubs/Indians World Series has given baseball new life. The game has been rejuvenated, at least temporarily.
When I walked out of South Dining Hall at 1 a.m. early Thursday morning, minutes after the Cubs had sealed their first World Series win in over a century, I was met with people screaming “Go, Cubs, Go!” at the top of their lungs.
And it felt how baseball was supposed to feel. So, let’s keep it that way.
Sure, baseball needs to make some changes in order to recapture the nation’s attention permanently, but I have full faith that the sport has the ability to become a center of American life once again. This World Series proved that baseball is capable of maintaining its status as America’s pastime.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.