4/6/15

Stephen Guilbert - Baseball is Back: 2015 Can Start Now

9 comments


Growing up in New Jersey, the summers could get hot. I grew up in a house without air conditioning and on the second floor of a poorly ventilated, turn-of-the-century home, getting to sleep on those hot and humid summer nights gave me trouble. My parents gave me a radio and told me to listen to white noise to fall to sleep. I searched the AM dial for something to listen to. Anything would do, really, I didn't much care. Christian talk radio. Okay, I thought, that's fine. My religious parents would be happy with that. That station didn't last long. Before I knew it, I could not pick up the station and searched again through the AM dial for something to listen to. Perhaps it was a bad radio and perhaps it was bad reception in my room or maybe, just maybe, it was meant to be. I rolled past 650 and as I turned, I started to get something. I couldn't quite make out what it was but right on 660 AM, I was listening to human voices. Excited voices. Fine by me, heck I just need this to take my mind of the heat and get myself to sleep.

The game, in which something called the "Mets" were playing something called the "Rivers" (later I found out the Mets were, in fact, playing the Brewers), was buzzing with animation. I had no idea what was going on but it was exciting. I stayed up well past my bedtime and was tired the next day--quite to the bewilderment of my parents (who had certainly found the solution to my sleeping problems with a cheap radio. I am so glad they did). I did it all again the next night.

Listening to a baseball game on the radio when you are a young kid is a challenge. I was a soccer player in my younger years and while my dad was a baseball fan (a Phillies fan, but that is a conversation for another day), we never had a television and it wasn't ever a topic of conversation before I came across 660. This is all to say that the terminology was completely foreign to me. Especially at the speed in which the information was coming, I just could not keep up. Yet, night after night, I found myself hurrying to get back from soccer practice and finish my work as early as I could to race upstairs, hop on the bed, turn the radio on and absorb the soothing drawl of Bob Murphy and the modulated, calm intensity of Gary Cohen.

This was summer for me year after year from that point on. Being part of the Mets was something that found me much more than me finding it or inheriting fanship from a parent or family member. I stayed up far too late as a kid because I just could not miss listening to the Mets broadcasts. Even when they lost, I took in every word and enjoyed every second. Whenever there was a big game, a come from behind victory, or a close win, I would find myself jumping up and down on my bed, probably much to the frustration of my siblings, parents and the springs in my bed.

Baseball has been a part of my life ever since. Every winter it seems as though hibernation should be an option for humans. Just wake me up when baseball is back. Every year, for me, the year starts when baseball starts. I remember years of my life using that year's baseball season as a unorthodox reference for memory. Although, it does makes sense. Baseball is my favorite hobby. Going to games is my favorite activity. Watching games is a nightly event and still motivation to get work done early, no different in my mid 20s at it was when I was eight.

Perhaps this is my "Mets fan origin story" and perhaps this is irrelevant to most of the readers on this site but I also think that the readers here have similar attachment to the game of baseball even if they found the Mets far differently than I did. Baseball is something beyond just a game, a fun activity, or summer evening entertainment. It's not just something to have on in the background or casually chat about during parties and family get-togethers. It's a part of our identity. It's been a part of our lives. Mets fans especially must have a special attachment to the game and our team because of the difficulty it is to invest in them. Most of your friends and family probably know you, in part, as "the Mets fan".

As much as I am optimistic about the Mets in 2015 and for how excited I am at the opportunity to cheer for a competitive team again, I am just happy baseball is back. The year can begin now. Here's to 2015. Let's Go Mets.

--SG

9 comments:

Thomas Brennan said...

Good story, Stephen...play ball.

I rooted for Maris over Mantle in 1961. In April 1962, my dad, a life-long Yank fan, thought my brother (a year older) and I should each pick one team to root for. I picked the Mets.

Many memories (and when I talk to my youngest brother, who is 47, I also realize how much I forget), but opening day was always fun, with 162 games to play. Before you knew it, the season was somehow over. Baseball should play 11 months a year, with a month off to chill.

Reese Kaplan said...

Did you feel any peer pressure to become a Yankees fan? After all, it's easier to root for a winner.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Thomas, did your older brother choose the Yankees?

Every year I try to get into football. It's the perfect stopgap for baseball. The Super Bowl is in february and by the time that's over, spring training is just about here. Every year I try different tactics to get into it but it fails every winter. Baseball is so far and beyond the best entertainment for me in the sports world and nothing will ever come close.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Reese, no I never did. What I failed to mention in the article is that, to my recollection, the one and only station my radio picked up was 660. Had it settled on 1210, I very well might be a Phillies fan. Had it not settled on anything, baseball for me might have just been another sport to casually follow.

The Yankees were never anywhere in the picture. My grandfather cheered for them but outside of him, no one in my family and none of my friends were die-hard anything fans so a path to being a Yankees fan wasn't all that easy.

The Mets really did find me, not the other way around and I'm very happy for that.

By the way, having grown up listening to baseball games instead of watching them on TV, a kid could not ask for two better announcers than Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen. I was certainly spoiled as a kid and I'm not sure I'll hear a better duo than those two (even though I adore Howie Rose and Josh Lewin)

Thomas Brennan said...

Stephen, my brother switched to being a Met fan shortly thereafter. I have 7 brothers and sisters. Only one Yankee fan.

There's always one outlier!

Stephen Guilbert said...

That there is. Hopefully it's our year this year.

Mack Ade said...

Stephen -

Excellent piece.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Thanks, Mack.

Steve from Norfolk said...

Stephen,

I'm right there with you, bro. I tell all my friends "The first day of summer is the day pitchers and catchers report to camp".

Mack's Mets © 2012