We have all rounded the bases and are heading “home” to start a New Year, as 2008 fades into the darkness of night, leaving us with many memories of another complete Baseball Season. But, 2009 will provide us with many new memories, as we start from home on a journey that will once again end at home, at the end of the year 2009.
“What’s Home?” Is a question asked by the former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti, in an article, “Front-office Fan” by Todd Brewster.
Giamatti expanded on his thought by saying, “Home is longing for when you were happy because you were younger. At least you thought you were happier.”
Well, on the Eve of yet another New Year, we look within our hearts to find our path back “home”.
In Baseball, home plate is a very unique place, the most unique place in all sports. A. Bartlett Giamatti conjured up the unique images of home plate in his book, “Take Time For Paradise”, and talks about the significance it has in the game of baseball; and, also, in all our hearts, in the game of life.
Giamatti mused, “Home plate mysteriously organizes the field as it energizes the odd patterns of squares tipped and circles incomplete. Home plate radiates a force no other spot on the field possesses, for its irregular precision, its character as an incomplete square but finished pentagram, starts the field, if you will, playing. It begins the dance of line and circle, the encounters of energy, direct and oblique, of misdirection and confrontation, of boundary and freedom that is the game, before any player sets foot on the field. Home plate also has a peculiar significance for it is the goal of both teams, the single place that in territorially based games — games about conqueing — must be symbolized by two goals or goal lines or nets or baskets. In baseball, everyone wants to arrive at the same place, which is where they start.”
“In baseball, even opponents gather at the same curious, unique place called home plate. Catcher and Batter, siblings who may see the world separately but share the same sight lines, are backed up and yet ruled by the parent figure, the umpire, whose place is the only one not completely defined. This tense family clusters at home, facing the world together, each with separate responsibilities and tasks and perspectives, each with different obligations and instruments. Some are intent on flight, some on communication, some simply on the good order of it all — the ‘conduct of the game’ — but they are still a family or family-like group in their proximity, their overall perspective, their chatter and squabbling, their common desire, differently expressed, to master the ferocity and duplicity of that spherical, irrational reality — the major league pitch.”
“Why is home plate not called fourth base? As far as I can tell it has always been thus.”
“And why not? Meditate upon the name. ‘Home’ is an English word virtually impossible to translate into other tongues. No translation catches the associations, the mixture of memory and longing, the sense of security and autonomy and accessibility, the aroma of inclusiveness, of freedom from wariness, that cling to the word ‘home’ and are absent from ‘house’ or even ‘my house’. Home is a concept, not a place; it is a state of mind where self-definition starts; it is orgins — the mix of time and place and smell and weather wherein one first realizes one is an original, perhaps ‘like’ others, especially those one loves, but discrete, distinct, not to be copied. Home is where one first learned to be separate and it remains in the mind as the place where reunion, if it ever were to occur, would happen.” … A. Bartlett Giamatti
“The national pastime, he said, is an oft-told tale that recommences with every pitch, with every game, with every season. It’s leaving home and struggling to return”. [Edward B. Fiske, “Lessons”]
So, as the snow falls, and the temperature drops into the teens, and the wind-chill factor is below zero, as hundreds of thousands of people wait for the ball to drop in Times Square, I sit here in the beautiful, Bronx, New York, waiting for the New Year to arrive.
It feels great to be warm and comfortable in my home as I await the New Year.
But, what I really look forward to [again] is seeing “home plate”, on beautiful green baseball fields, not covered with snow, but glowing with all our dreams and hopes of another new baseball season.
And, all the action on these beautiful baseball diamonds with start at “home” and end at “home”. But, home will always be in our hearts, as our destination will be home plate on our own “Field of Dreams”.
Best Wishes, to everybody, for a Very Happy and Healthy New Year !!!
— Jimmy Curran, “Baseball, The Yankees, and Life”