THE WAY I SEE BASEBALL?

3/23/21

Jay C. Brandriet

Opening day is coming, and I don’t care. I’m not a baseball fan.

That said, the game has been a powerful background in my life.

In sixth grade, basketball and football were easy for me to get the hang of. Baseball was not. I remember the last week at West Kearns Elementary. Our class was competing with the teachers in a softball game. Not only did I not volunteer, I remember the emotion I had watching from nearby. It seemed ballsy to even be out there. It felt adult.

It may not be my thing, but I have respect for baseball. It’s hard!

Think it’s a “wussy sport?” YOU stand in that batters box with Randy Johnson 60 feet away.

I enjoy the variation of the batting stance.

Hand eye coordination has to be super high.

I appreciate how a routine fly ball for an outfielder, is actually routine.

Baseball makes you stand out under a microscope. It makes you vulnerable, while each detail is exposed. It’s very individual, inside of a team sport.

The players in football are so closely connected as they execute. They need each other on the highest level.

Alex Mueller made an amazing point to justify baseballs differences.

“It is a direct matchup between the pitcher and batter, true… But it’s like real life. You (the batter) has to take care of his OWN business, to be able to lift and help advance the group.”

MY LIFE AND BASEBALL

I remember two baseball related gifts from my parents. One was a Montreal Expos helmet. The “M” on the front looked like “JB” to me. Maybe my parents thought the same thing?

I also got a mitt one Christmas, That smell was classic.

My buddies Jens and David Hansen helped me fill a broken down Monte Carlo to the brim with baseball cards. We left the windows down, and of course it rained that night.

Off that experience, I claimed the Toronto Blue Jays for a minute. The logo was sweet and the name Jay swayed me.

My Uncle Curt Rogness coached youth baseball teams. I put on the catchers gear a few times. I could at least act like a ball player.

Kick soccer was much more enjoyable to play.

My x father in law managed his sons teams as well. I spent quality time yelling from the stands. Dan’s new name from me became “coach.”

My friends and I from Highland built a shabby baseball diamond with real effort in 1991. We probably used it for about for about twelve minutes. There’s just something about a baseball field. “Build it, and they will come.”

Though he stopped watching it by the late 1990’s, Russ Riggs would always stick up for baseball.

Jared Adams and I would sit on the curb, opening packs of 1989 Fleer for hours. Jared’ was a Darryl Strawberry guy.

I will often tell Alex Mueller, “I love how much, you love this game.”

Jim Fuchuck, his father, and baseball. Awesome.

Nobody has more sports passion than David Schultz. You should have lived next door to him when his Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. Let’s just say all of Murray knew how happy he was. They knew until about 345am. Loud as it was, I understood.

I’ve told Dave and his brother Rob, that listening to their half hour rants about baseball has the same affect as tylenol pm.

I was happy for Chad Smith and Tony Parks when the Cubs came through.

There is a triple-A club in Salt Lake City. The ballpark shows off the beauty of Utah. Many of us have hit that spot more than once.

MLB

For how little I’ve watched, I know a solid amount about MLB history. It’s interesting, and statistics are cool in this sport.

With great fortune I was able to interview Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew, and Tori Hunter. Dale Murphy was a customer of ours at Sportsman’s Warehouse. Lots of stories and kindness from him.

Fred McGriff was my guy.

I used to record Barry Bonds games. I’d fast forward to each at bat. I’d hope he’d get something tempting to hit. From my limited point of view, Bonds is the best baseball player I’ve ever seen.

I liked Griffey Jr. and his smooth swing.

I followed Mark McGwire in his St, Louis days. The home run race with Sosa was an epic, extended sporting event.

ONE GUY WHO GAVE ME TRUE LOVE FOR BASEBALL

There is only one area where I was an actual, legit fan of this sport. Kirby Puckett.

My parents are from Watertown, South Dakota. It’s a four hour drive from Minneapolis. Needless to say the majority of my family back there are Twins fans. I used to sit at the kitchen table with my Grandpa Rogness after dinner. He would listen to the games on the radio.

My Auntie Lois and Uncle Ralph lived two blocks up the street. They had cable television, ahead of the curve. It seems like either college football, NASCAR, bowling, or MLB was always on the screen.

When it was time to see Kirby come up, I’d get butterflies. He was 5’8″ tall. He hit for average (.356 in 1988) and had underrated power. His glove? His arm? He was Minny’s mighty mite.

I remember waiting for the newspaper each day to see the Twins box score.

The fact my friend Llewellyn sees Kirby the same, is like us sharing a Birthday or something.

The pinnacle was the 1991 World Series. Game 6. Puckett hits a walk-off home run. They go on to win it all. Again.

In my one true attachment with this side sport, I got to enjoy some championships.

Pretty good deal.

The way I see baseball?

It’s never been mine, but I’ve enjoyed borrowing it.

Jay C. Brandriet

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