Just A Sport

Recently found this script for a performance on my computer from an acting class I took a while back. Thought if I could find people to appreciate it anywhere, it would be here.

Just a Sport

A lot of people tell me baseball is just a sport. July 17th, 2002. My Grandpa, my Grandma and my dad took me to my first Cardinals baseball game. Somehow, don’t ask me how, we got tickets next to the dugout. Then some how, don’t ask me how, we got to go on the field during batting practice. There I was, a 9 year old on a professional baseball stadium! I could barely see the outfield fence and these players were hitting the ball out there.

I was diving around on the field like any 9 year old would do trying to catch batting practice balls with no luck. Eventually some older kid took pity on me and tossed a ball my way. Sure the ball had a big SF for San Francisco on it, but who cared? I had a major league baseball! I walked back to my seat grasping my new trophy, worried that if I let it go, the moment would disappear. We got back to my seat as the players ran out onto the field and the crowd got to their feet. I’d heard that crowd thousands of times as I ran out into my backyard and they chanted my name. I’d heard that crowd hundreds of times as I watched games on TV. I was almost too amazed at seeing it in person to see Fernando Vina, the Cardinals second baseman, run out on the field and toss a ball my direction. I stuck my hand up with my grandpa’s glove which was too at least 16 sizes too big for my hand and squeezed my hand. I pulled the glove down, afraid to look inside. In the glove was a signed baseball. As I caught that ball, I caught my love for Cardinals baseball.

My dad’s from St. Louis, and he loves the Cardinals, my Grandpa was from St. Louis, and he loved the Cardinals. My grandpa even played for a Cardinals minor league team for a while. I doubt he played much, but that didn’t matter to me because my grandpa was a professional baseball player! And it sure as hell didn’t matter to him, because he got to play for the team he loved.

I’ve used the word ‘love’ twice so far during this performance. A lot of people tell me "you can’t possibly love a sports team." Sure you can. Towards the end of his life, my Grandpa’s memory started to fade. He’d look at his son, his grandson and not recognize them. But get him talking about the Cardinals, and he’d brighten up like a kid. Like a kid going to his first baseball game. He’d start spewing off stats, numbers, names, games, coaches. He could tell you Stan Musial’s batting average in 1946, which was .338, and tell you how many home runs Albert Pujols hit in 2006, 49. Even when he forgot everything else, he remembered the Cardinals. That’s love

In 2010 my grandpa passed away. In 2011 the Cardinals found themselves down 3-2 in the world series, down by 2 runs, in the bottom of the 9th inning, with 2 outs, and 2 strikes. David freese, the rookie from St. Louis comes up to bat. He digs in. The pitcher delivers the pitch and he swings. Now I’m not a doctor, and anyone who knows anything about medicine, or has any common sense at all would disagree with me, but I swear to God my heart stopped for 4 seconds. Anyway, he swung. CRACK. 1. The ball left his bat towards right field. 2. The right fielder drifts back as the entire crowd follows the ball. 3. The right fielder finds the wall with his hand, leaps up and reaches for the ball...4. The ball bounces off the wall inches from his glove. The crowd in St. Louis went crazy. Sitting in my dormroom in in Villanova, PA I went crazy. 2 runs scored, and David Freese slid into 3rd. We’d tied it. I couldn’t believe it! All hope was gone, and a rookie from Stl. had tied the game for his home team.

In the 10th we went down by two again. Then we tied it up again. After getting 3 outs in the 11th, guess who led off the bottom of the 11th? Yeah. David Freese. He digs in. Again. The pitcher get set again. Delivers. Again. He swings. Again. Crack. Again. A shot to deep center. The announcer Joe Buck imitated his father, the legendary announcer Jack Buck’s call from 91 as the ball flew into deep center "And We will…..see you tomorrow night". The ball goes over the fence, the crowd erupts, two fans dive on the ball, the players spill out of the bench onto the field. David Freese rounds third, and tosses his helmet between his legs before jumping into the the swarm of teammates as they mugged him. I lay on the floor, speechless.

David Freese.

David Freese who had given up baseball in college but was drawn back because he loved it so much.

David Freese the hometown kid who saved his home team from losing the world series.

He was more than just a person, he was a legend. He was Baseball. He was me. Swinging a branch at a make believe ball in my backyard with bubble gum in my lower lip because I wanted to look like the pros. He was my grandpa, who gave everything he got just for a chance to play for his team. He was every sports fan who ever prayed on their knees praying for that last out, that last hit, that last save, that buzzer beating three. He was every person who ever felt like their back was against the wall, but who couldn’t get up because they knew they were meant for something more. That swing. That swing brings back every baseball memory I have. It reminds me of playing T-ball. It reminds me of throwing with my parents. It reminds me of my parents literally carrying me into my house after I pulled my neck swinging the bat. It reminds me of meeting my best friend when I was 8, then waking up to watch baseball when we studied abroad in Australia. It reminds me of meeting total strangers and bonding over that hit, that catch, that pitch, that call. It reminds me of yelling at my roommates saying "THE YANKEES?? REALLY?". It reminds me of being too nervous to ask a girl out, so just watching a baseball game with her instead. It reminds me of a phone call to my parents after the cardinals won the world series, and all of us yelling into the phone, and none of us knowing what the other was saying but it didn’t matter because the message was clear: I LOVE THIS TEAM. I love you.

It reminds me of watching games with my grandpa. It reminds me of falling off my tricycle at his house, because apparently falling off a tricycle IS possible. It reminds of my grandpa’s funeral, and seeing my dad cry for the first time. It reminds me of all the times he’d tickle me and wouldn’t stop til I was in tears, and my dad would just sit in the corner smiling because he’d been there too.

Earlier I said that David Freese’s swing brings back all these memories. That’s a lie, every time I watch baseball. Every time I talk about baseball I’m reminded of these moments. I’m reminded of one of the saddest moments of my life. But I’m also reminded of so many amazing moments with all the people I love.

But hey. Baseball’s just a sport. Right?

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