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What's baseball? Let a master answer that fun question

Jul 2, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

What's baseball?

Broadcaster Ernie Harwell, in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, described it best:

"Baseball is the president tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm. A tall, thin, old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout. That's baseball.

"And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home after one of his 714 home runs.

"There's a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh 46 years ago. That's baseball. So is the scout reporting that a 16-year-old pitcher in Cheyenne is a coming.

"Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

"In baseball democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another.

"Baseball is a rookie. His experience no bigger than the lump in his throat as he begins fulfillment of his dream.

"It's a veteran too, a tired old man of 35 hoping that those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September.

"Nicknames are baseball, names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.

Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby. The flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, an over-aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.

"Baseball is just a game, as simple as a ball and bat, yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.

"Why, the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World's Series catch. And then dashing off to play stick ball in the street with his teenage pals. That's baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth."

"Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, ladies day, "Down in Front", "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and the "Star Spangled Banner."

Baseball is a tongue tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball! Thank you."

Some question whether baseball is still America's game. I don't. Harwell said baseball is "The greatest game of all."

On Sunday we caught our first big league game of the year. We rose, just as fans will stand again this Thursday, July 4, in ballparks across the county, in the middle of the seventh inning, and just before we sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," we sang with pride:

"God bless America,

"Land that I love.

"Stand beside her, and guide her

"Through the night with a light from above.

"From the mountains, to the prairies,

"To the oceans, white with foam

"God bless America, My home sweet home,

"God bless America, My home sweet home."

Happy Fourth of July.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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