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A Baseball Circle of Life


by Bob Apple

Growing up in Ohio, my Mom and I had the radio on every night listening to Marty Brenneman and Joe Nuxhall call the Cincinnati Reds ballgame during the days of the Big Red Machine. My love for baseball started in the spring of 1968, when I played hooky from the third grade to catch the opening day Reds game on television. I started playing Little League that year and was also able to attend my first game at the old Crosley Field. I have been enamored with the game ever since.

By 1970, the core team that went on to become one of the greatest ever had started taking shape. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Davey Concepcion were soon joined by Joe Morgan, George Foster, Ken Griffey and Caesar Geronimo. Obviously, they set the bar high for my expectations of future teams, as they won back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976.

I played baseball through high school and my Mom was my biggest fan. She rarely missed a game. It was our special bond. Since she played some in her younger days, I guess you could say she lived her life vicariously through me during my playing days.

Detroit Comerica Park, 2017 on their Daddy-Daughter adventure

I started playing slow pitch softball right out of high school. Through 40 years of moving to five other states, I continued to play up until two years ago. With moving, my list of favorite major league teams has grown over the decades. The 1980’s Tigers, the 1990’s Braves, the 2000’s Cardinals and most recently the Angels of the 2010’s. I am now back to the Braves! During this time, no team ever measured up to the Reds from my childhood, however I seemed to add favorites while never subtracting the oldies.

As such, moving, travel, and free agency sent me down the path of embracing favorite players, as opposed to following only specific favorite teams. Ultimately, I have come to recognize that I am a bit unique in that every team is my favorite team, as I follow players and their teams throughout the league.

My love for the game has also led me to develop a baseball bucket list to see:

  • A ballgame in all 30 major league parks (completed, but will visit the Rangers new park this year)
  • A ballgame at every MLB spring training facility (will complete in 2021)
  • Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame Classic
  • Field of Dreams in Iowa
  • Little League World Series in Williamsport
  • The College Baseball World Series in Omaha
  • The College Softball World Series in Oklahoma City

My daughter Stacey played fast pitch softball from the age of five, including high level travel ball and high school ball. I did my best to attend every game, however my batting average suffered when business travel picked up and I moved out of state. As my softball playing years waned, her level of play increased. Stacey ended up playing a couple of years in college at Belmont University as a walk on. With that, I began to live my life vicariously through her. She now plays coed softball, which I have been begging to play on her team as a part time sub. Maybe they will be desperate and need me some time!

Stacey and I also were able to take a Daddy-Daughter trip in 2017, seeing games in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto, with a side trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park. We created memories on that adventure that I will cherish forever.

Grandson Cooper in his patented stance concentrating

Fast forward to today; we have seven grandchildren, of which four are already playing baseball, amongst other sports. They all enjoy playing, however, they will never know how much enjoyment I get from their entertaining play. As a retiree, I have been able to fill my calendar up with T-ball and coach pitch games. I hope to graduate to older leagues as they develop. Who knows, maybe one or more will parlay their skills into a college scholarship or more. I also plan to take them to the Little League World Series during their 12 year old season. I’m looking forward to that!

Webster’s third definition of vicarious states: felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others.  Baseball has been a significant part of my life for over 50 years. Now I can say that my baseball circle of life has come full as I will continue to live my life vicariously through our grandchildren.

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