Garages and attics are busy places this time of the year. Seems everyone is doing some sort of spring cleaning, whether it be in the garage, inside the house, or even at the office. First and foremost has to be the search for the mitt and league ball. Opening Day is just arriving and parents and children from coast to coast will be on the search for their BASEBALL GLOVES. I know mine is on the desk at the office, always on the ready.
I really haven’t had the need to condition my Rawlings Special. It still has great shape and is full of life. It also still has that baseball glove smell.
Remember the days of old when mom and dad bought you your first glove? You rushed home with a couple baseballs and started breaking in the darn thing. Seems it took forever to get any sense of a pocket. It took longer to get the ends on the fingertips to ‘curve in’ as we know and wanted them to do ever so badly. I even remember tying my glove with a sanni sock ever so tight, baseballs in place in the pocket, and buried the whole contraption under the water in our filled wash sink in the laundry room. I would let it soak overnight, only to take it outside to dry in the mild spring air and then start mashing it over and over again with the end of a bat.
As a kid, I always took my glove with me to opening day. It was some sort of ritual and simply was the cool thing to do. I would never know if a foul ball would come my way as I was walking the concourses at Wrigley, always trying to find the one unoccupied seat and the section where there were no Andy Frain Ushers to give you THAT evil look. Sometimes, the flying balls would make their way down the steps onto the concourse after several people made a failed attempt. Oh, Wrigley.
I always prepped Mom and Dad as the weeks and days approached, just so I could have them on the ready to write that note to my teachers: “Dear Ms. Opening Day Teacher, Sandy was absent yesterday as he developed (fill in the blank) that just wouldn’t go away. We felt it best to monitor this from home. Please provide Sandy with any missed homework or needed materials so he may catch up on his work. Sincerely, Mr. and Mrs. Krum.” I wonder how many parents will be writing that same kind of note this week. Ya know …wink!
Opening Day meant smelling the concession stands getting readied, the Smokie Links grilling on the grill, the soda and beer guys filling their trays and making quick change from the dispenser on their belts, the pizza man walking around hawking an empty box he was waving. It meant I could hear the organ and watch the scoreboard operators change the numbers every time a run was scored. It meant I could just be among people who loved the game of baseball as much as I did. It meant I could sing twice for sure with an anthem and take me out to the ball game. It meant I could tune to 720am on my transistor radio and listen to some fine play by play. I just had to save enough change to take the EL home, along with a transfer of course.
I know I’m looking forward to the Opening Day. Why, you ask? Cause its root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win it’s a shame. For its one, two, three strikes you’re out at the ol ball game!
Finally, The Show…
My most incredible experience at Wrigley happened on Opening Day back in 2001…
Ahhh, that Opening Day at Wrigley Field…I could smell the fresh cut grass, still those same Smokie Links cooking, popcorn popping, and the electricity was buzzing, like when you rub a balloon on your hair. The gates open for the start of the 2001 home season and fans flocked to assume their position in the bleachers. Finally, after grabbing their hotdog and beverage, they picked that spot to watch the pre-game. All set with their gloves ready, they waited eagerly for that crack of the bat in hopes of catching the BP home run ball. There I was, first game as a Chicago Cub Athletic Trainer, taped into an old rusty grocery cart that migrated down from the local Jewel. Hockey mask strapped on, feet dangling and placed ever so perfectly in left-center field for batting practice. Even my college roommate was amongst them. “Krummie, is that you?”…he shouted. The only thing I could think of was, “Please ball, don’t come my way!” Crack after crack, balls launched from the pine bats like missiles. One after another just missing. For the player at the plate, it was like when you’re hitting golf balls at the driving range and the cart is out there picking up balls – aim…fire…“DAMN, missed again!” Players couldn’t wait to get their turn…”come on, let me in there!” It felt like a whole game had passed, when finally I was rescued by the grounds crew as they began to ready the field with fresh chalk. “Welcome to the Show, Kid!”
All the Best – Athletic Trainers
Looking back, it was an incredible run with the Chicago Cubs and professional baseball. As ballparks open across this great land, I can’t help but think of the Athletic Trainers and Medical Teams for each of the 30 clubs. Long, exhausting days ahead for these folks. What tremendous care each and every one of these individuals provide on a daily basis. The bottom line is these ATC’s keep your favorite players healthy and functional from Opening Day until the final out of the World Series. Many of these folks have years of education and practice honing their skills. They are the best of the best and personally take themselves out of the equation for the 162 game campaign. Incredible! Kudos to my fellow PBATS members and wishing each of them the best for the season!
Enjoy the season everyone! I know I will!
“Let’s play two!” – Ernie Banks