The 2015 baseball season is off and running, as today we have the Boston Beaneaters taking on the St. Louis Maroons, and later the Worcester Ruby Legs try to derail the Brooklyn Superbas.
At least, that’s the scenario that could have taken place in the 1800’s, when team names were apparently much more imaginative. Those are actual names of professional ball teams of yore. St. Louis also had the Perfectos. Imagine a contest between the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the Philadelphia Quakers. And what more deserving name can there be for a Cleveland team than the Spiders? I wonder if the Spider uniform had hairy legs. Or a venom sac.
There were also the Boston Red Stockings (not to be confused with the Boston Red Sox), which eventually became the Atlanta Braves, and the Chicago White Stockings (not to be confused with the Chicago White Sox), which eventually became the Chicago Cubs (after also being the Colts and the Orphans). Clear? Many other teams came and went before the dust settled, including the Hartford Dark Blues, the St. Louis Brown Stockings, and the Milwaukee Grays. Our ancestors seem to have had a fixation on stockings.
Some degree of stability has come to professional baseball teams, with just an occasional new franchise, or perhaps a team fleeing in the night to move to a more lucrative market. So now we can all concentrate on just enjoying the Millionaires of Summer doing their thing.
Baseball has many grand traditions, and I’m not talking about the pitcher loading up the cowhide (formerly horsehide) with Vaseline or “chaw” or even plain old reliable spit. Nor am I referring to the batter loading his bat with cork, or smearing it with pine tar, or juicing up his body with steroids. All of those are baseball traditions, but a gnat’s eye shy of grand.
Many of the best baseball traditions have nothing to do with what happens on the diamond. Generations of Americans have made family memories attending ballgames, or listening to them on the radio, or watching them on TV. The best traditions are about family ties. The best traditions are not about Bonds on steroids but about bonds formed between fathers and sons and daughters.
Is there a baseball tradition in your family? Is there a family member that you can start a new tradition with? Baseball may or may not be America’s pastime, but it can be a way to hit for the cycle with your family.