Friday, October 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This is my own first-ever edition of a Throwback Thursday post, published yesterday, inspired by a number of Facebook friends who dream up something noteworthy every week to disclose about their past, usually images or stories. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about my past. I haven’t amassed a large collection of photographs of myself, and even if I had I wouldn’t feel the urge to publish them.

Just the same, reading through a handful of TBT posts as they are called--Facebook posts by the well-practiced veterans of Life Before Now--I realized there was something for me to say about such matters.

Not surprisingly (if you know me) it involves baseball. (Jazz, too, is another throwback. I noticed some time ago that if an American jazz musician is any kind of sports fan, he or she is a baseball fan.) But oddly enough, few baseball fans will see this post until later, if at all, because Thursday marked the first day of the baseball playoffs...

Unless you count the Wild Card games. But let’s not split semantical or sabremetrical hairs.

The game of baseball, with organized teams and written records dating back to 1845, is a throwback in itself. It is vaguely related to British cricket and rounders, but the game as it it known now was designed, codified and organized by American bookseller/fire chief Alexander Cartwright. By the time of the 1860 presidential election the game was so popular that baseball imagery was incorporated into an Abraham Lincoln campaign poster. There are stories about Union and Confederate soldiers sneaking away from their campfires at the end of the day and meeting at a neutral location for a friendly game.

The Seattle Mariner baseball cap is a personal throwback to 1982 when I lived in Seattle. This was pre-Ken Griffey, a bleak period in Mariner lore, but I was a devoted fan (and still am). The hat was a giveaway at a game at which it was hoped that the recently imported and (eventual) Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry would win his 300th game. He didn’t do it until a subsequent outing, but I got a chapeau with the old Mariner logo (Poseidon’s trident) courtesy of a cruise ship line that shuttles vacationers along the Pacific coast between Seattle and Alaska.

The Mariners went on to build a new stadium after I left town. Jay Buhner and Ken Griffey and Edgar Martinez arrived and in 1995 the Mariners won the American League West title. This 2014 season just past, they came within a single game of going to the playoffs. (This is a brutally unforgiving, statistically-driven sport that defines "good," "better," and "best" by means of numbers as black-and-white as an accountant's--comforting in a world of grays and ambiguities.) Their final act of the year was to win every game in the last series of the year, vanquishing the best team in baseball, the Anaheim Angels. The Seattle Mariners will be back with a vengeance next year, you can count on that.

Among other things, being a lifelong baseball fan has taught me historical perspective. War? Droughts? Pestilence? Plagues? Economic and social collapse? These things too shall pass.

My personal throwback approach to all of the wrongs of the world is to go back out into the world and those green pastures and get into the thrill of the game again. And then when all the dust settles, put my feet up, get a bag of peanuts and a beer. It’s the playoffs!

Play ball!

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