According to Terrance Mann, the James Earl Jones played character in Field of Dreams, “baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
As accurate as this quote is for the extensive history of the game of baseball, it also rings true for the lives of so many fans.
I am proud to be one of those fans and excited that the next step with my ever-evolving relationship with the game of baseball will be with One Strike Away and the ESPN SweetSpot Network.
The game of baseball has always been a huge part of my life, starting with some of the happiest memories of my childhood. As I moved to a new town in the third grade, I quickly latched on to other boys who traded baseball cards; checking values and making trades as if I was the general manager of a team. My prized card in the collection? A 1969 Topps Nolan Ryan card.
As I began to adjust to small town life, I found that my play on the baseball field helped my social life much more than my growing binder of Ryan cards ever would. The countless hours spent throwing a baseball at a tire in the backyard while pretending to be Nolan translated into an obsession that opened many doors in my life, with the baseball field providing so many of my greatest memories in both high school and college.
Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, a game of mental strength and endurance, and a game of hope. So many of the events of my life can be carefully marked by coinciding events of the Texas Rangers and either the joy, hope, or sorrow that my team was providing.
1999 was the year of my high school graduation, but it will always be remembered for the Rangers’ American League West Championship and the playoff drought that would follow. 2001 was my last year of playing competitive baseball, but will forever be further marred by being the year the Rangers sold their souls to Alex Rodriguez. My son was born in 2010, but whenever I hear anyone reference that year, I immediately think of the World Series.
Not only has baseball “marked the time” in my life, but every time I watch a game or step on a field, I am clearly reminded of “all that once was good and it could be again”. I am fortunate enough to have an opportunity to coach high school baseball and help instill the joy, memories, and life lessons that the game has to offer to the next generation of baseball addicts. I hope to give something back to a game that has given me so much and am constantly looking for new avenues to stay involved within baseball.
One Strike Away is providing me with my newest avenue and I greatly look forward to having the opportunity to make more memories with Texas Rangers baseball.
My greatest memory as a fan of the Texas Rangers actually came from a loss. Saturday, July 10, 2010, in a game that I was able to watch due to local Baltimore Orioles coverage here in Virginia, I was able to lean back in a hospital recliner with my son, who was not even a full day old at this point, and watch our first baseball game together. I remember seeing Cliff Lee take the field in a Rangers uniform for the first time and thinking, “Wow, we’ve got something special and amazing here”, then looking down at my son and knowing the same was true with him.
Of course I knew my son was special. After all, I did just name him Nolan.