According to my father, the only way to keep me quiet and still as a baby was to sit me in front of a Cubs game on TV. The voice of Jack Brickhouse apparently had a hypnotic effect on me, and for better or worse, I've been hooked on baseball ever since.
You can't beat the view!
Baseball has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I learned the game from my father and grandfather and the bond that it created with both of those men was reason enough for me to devote my heart to it. They not only taught me the proper fundamentals of playing it, but also helped me appreciate the game's many subtleties and develop a reverence for its history.
My memories are peppered with baseball memories. Like life in general, my recollections are a mixture of the bitter and the sweet.
I cheered the Cubs to their first postseason appearance in 39 years when I was 14 and experienced the thrill of witnessing Kerry Wood strike out 20 batters in one game when I was 28. I was devastated when the Cubs blew a two games to zero lead and lost a best-of-5 series to the San Diego Padres in 1984 and was nearly driven to tears when they missed out on the World Series in 2003 after being just five outs away from reaching the Fall Classic.
I have witnessed in person notable events like Fred Lynn hitting the only grand slam in All-Star Game history, the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field, and playoff games at the Friendly Confines. I spent two wonderful days at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. But I remember many seemingly mundane moments just as well - like going to my first Jacket Day with my grandparents when I was 6, attending my first game with my parents when I was 8, and sharing many laughs with my wife during our many games together.
There are many small pleasures that baseball can bring:
* Spending quality time with the people who are most important in my life.
* Drinking a cold beverage on a warm, sunny spring day while taking in the beauty of a perfectly-manicured, green field.
* Soaking in the satisfaction of a come-from-behind win.
* Watching a difficult game being played at the highest level.
I can remember my father teaching me how to keep score and pointing out how the outfielders were playing a particular hitter from our seats in the upper deck. I have been more than glad to pass that knowledge on to my nephews and can't wait until I can share moments like that with my 3-year-old son.
Some people fear growing older, but I have always tried to savor the stages of life as the decades have passed. I'm glad baseball has been there to mark the time.