Baseball is an endurance sport…the grind of 162+ games of a full season…night after night…after night with only the occasional day off. It is enough time for players to go in and out of slumps…sub par performances….multiple times. The hard core fan loves it…analyzing counts on a batter…situational hitting…how to shift a defense on certain batter…how to pitch a player…the list is absolutely endless. For the casual fan, Baseball is a sport with a slow rhythm….most of it mundane with a few moments of excitement.You see there are games where you know something special is going to happen…remember a few years ago when the Season Home Run Record was in jeopardy…as the game approached with the chance of Mark Mcquire rocketing past Roger Maris...the ticket prices went through the roof….the press was in full attendance. It was the same on August 22, 1989….Nolan Ryan was scheduled to pitch…and expected to get his 5,000 strikeout…and somehow my brother had a ticket to the game. He said that atmosphere was electric as the expectations mounted…and when the magic moment happened…the strobe lights of cameras made the old Arlington Stadium look like Club 54.
Then there are those games where something awesome may happen…but you can’t really plan for it…like a no hitter being thrown…or even more rare, the perfect game. There have been only 19 of those in the modern era (defined from 1900)…and 21 ever in the history of Baseball. Those games start out as normal games…but as they progress…the crowd excitement grows…the news wire picks up…and now MLB Network will cut into the game.
Last night was one of those games. In Camden Yard, Baltimore Maryland…before only about 11,000 fans…Josh Hamilton did something that only 15 people before him have done. That’s right….there have been more perfect games thrown than what Josh did…hit 4 home runs in one game. In fact he went 5 for 5 from the plate with 4 home runs and one double…18 bases total….more bases than Albert Pujols had in all of April. What do Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio, and Ted Williams have in common? None of them did what Josh did last night. It is argued that just hitting a baseball is the hardest thing in sport to accomplish. A professional that hits 3 out of 10 times for a lifetime is considered Hall of Fame…but to take one yard….that, not only indicates hand eye coordination, but the coveted Power…and then to do it 4 out of 5 times in a single game…there are not many words to describe that…
For the casual fan, and before of the 11,000 Baltimore fans in Camden Yard…who by the way gave Texas Ranger, Josh, a standing ovation…the standard mundane game turned into pure excitement . For the avid fan, well….it was something special to behold…something to tell your grandkids about…something beyond the media guide stats that you pore over. Josh said when he rounded 2nd Base on his last one and saw his teammates jumping around, it reminded him of playing Little League again…and the excitement that went with that. That is why we love the sport so much in this country…it reminds us of childhood sandlots…and a summer afternoon with our buddies….for Baseball is an endurance sport…for over 150 years…it has endured…and last night was part of the reason why…Last night you were 12 again…and your buddy hit a bomb…and you and your teammates jumped around.