Sports nostalgia makes for special Fourth


There was only one night game a year. On the 4th of Ju­ly, the whole sky would bright­en up with fire­works, giv­ing us just enough light for a game. We played our best game be­cause I guess we all felt like big leaguers un­der the lights of some great sta­di­um.

—The Sand­lot

The Fourth of Ju­ly al­ways makes me think about base­ball. Gran­ted, I prob­ably spend most of my wak­ing hours think­ing about our na­tion’s pas­time, but nev­er does my love for the game res­on­ate more than on Amer­ica’s birth­day.

If any­thing, it makes me feel young again. When we’re kids, we don’t think about grow­ing up and as­sum­ing the re­spons­ib­il­it­ies of our par­ents and eld­ers. Years ago, it was a sim­pler time, prob­ably for all of us. There was a time, one that now feels like forever ago, where bills, mort­gages, stu­dent loan pay­ments and full-time jobs were noth­ing more than for­eign con­cepts to us.

Al­though it gets hazi­er with each passing day, I re­mem­ber the time when my biggest con­cern in life was my next little league game. I think we all do. All I needed to have the time of my life was a base­ball mitt, a ball and a throw­ing part­ner, but if nobody was avail­able, a brick wall would cer­tainly suf­fice. It was the best of times, and base­ball al­ways kept me com­pany dur­ing the most try­ing times. For that reas­on, the Fourth of Ju­ly al­ways brings back memor­ies that, at least for one day, burn bright­er than a shoot­ing star across the twi­light sky.

Much like the young boys in the 1993 film The Sand­lot, I too can’t help but stand still and be hyp­not­ized by the ex­plod­ing fire­works crack­ling and sizz­ling from above. When I was a kid, I used to be ter­ri­fied by their loud noises; now, I long for them every year, if for no oth­er reas­on than to hold onto my child­hood for a few more minutes.

Any­time we step out onto a field, it re­minds us why we love sports so much. For me, my par­ti­cip­a­tion in a church soft­ball league keeps that child­hood nos­tal­gic fire burn­ing in­side of my soul.

Our team hasn’t won a game in al­most two sea­sons, but that doesn’t rob me of the pure joy I feel every time I take my spot in right field, beg­ging for the ball to be hit in my dir­ec­tion and make my legs feel like they are 12 years old again. Every time I step in­to the bat­ter’s box, I think back to the year 2000 when, while play­ing for Holy Ter­rors in the sum­mer be­fore high school, I launched a bases-clear­ing triple that towered over the out­field­er’s heads that turned me in­to a hero for just one day. Soon after that mo­ment had come and gone, I moved onto high school, then col­lege, then the real world…but I nev­er for­get that ma­gic­al mo­ment that oc­curred a dozen years ago. The Fourth of Ju­ly won’t let me.

I know that the par­ents who read the North­east Times sports sec­tion every week feel the same way that I do. There was prob­ably a time that you ex­per­i­enced this beau­ti­ful feel­ing, one you wish you could bottle up and keep on a shelf above your bed forever.

Par­ents long for the glory days too, and some are lucky enough to live it again vi­cari­ously through their own chil­dren. Kids may scoff or roll their eyes at how much Mom and Dad em­bar­rass them on the side­lines of their own games, but they only do so be­cause they know how quickly that time came and went in their lives. It’s not easy to let that go, and nobody ever should have to. The young­sters play­ing sports all around the North­east may not un­der­stand it now, but they will one day. In the mean­time, treat every game like it is in­deed your last, be­cause one day, it will be.

When you’re a kid, it’s easy to take time for gran­ted. For years, we give very little thought as to what adult­hood and re­spons­ib­il­ity will bring. Grow­ing up and get­ting older are cer­tainly ex­hil­ar­at­ing in their own right, but in a much more com­plic­ated sense. One day you’re in di­apers, and the next it’s gone, which is a fleet­ing ex­ample of how cruel time can be.

So no mat­ter your age, make sure to peer up at the night sky this week when the fire­works be­gin to ex­plode and grab a hold of that mo­ment from your child­hood and don’t let it go. Re­mem­ber the time when you felt like a big leaguer un­der the night sky, be­cause there really is noth­ing like it. As you grow older, time tries to rob you of the last re­main­ing rem­nants of youth like money in a bank vault, but it can nev­er rob you of your memor­ies.

At al­most 26, those won­der­ful memor­ies con­tin­ue to fade and feel far away for me most of the year. But for one day, just one day, time turns back its greedy hands and lets us go back in­to that mo­ment one more time. It may only last a few minutes, and that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment may be a little bit dif­fer­ent for all of us, but it should be en­joyed no mat­ter what it con­tains.

However, the one unit­ing factor is that when we take in the fire­works on the Fourth of Ju­ly, we’re all kids again. That is a won­der­ful feel­ing, one that should be felt by every read­er of the Times sports sec­tion.

I won’t let that mo­ment go, and you shouldn’t either. Heck, why would you want to? ••


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