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All That Is Good

The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.


- Terence Mann, Field of Dreams


While baseball is simply a game to most, it's been much more to me for longer than I can remember. It's a thread woven through the very fabric of my being, adding its own significance and meaning to every facet of life. My earliest, most vivid memories are of summer evenings spent wandering the gravelly roads of the Little League Baseball complex, watching my brothers play ball from the outfield fence and scavenging for candy money. Back then, the seasons lasted forever, and a summer of baseball was a blissful eternity. Every summer vacation was set to a backdrop of baseball; days were spent perfecting nasty wiffle-ball sliders, and as darkness crept in, the evening gave way to Reds baseball on the radio. Even today, as summer turns quietly to fall, I can hear the steady murmur of Marty Brennaman on the evening breeze, a white noise that, as a child, was a reliable harbinger of bedtime.


As it tends to do, time has marched onward. Yet, throughout my transition from child to man, Reds baseball has been ever-present. Regardless of my age or locale, the middle of February always triggers a switch inside me; for, somewhere in the sun-drenched plains of Arizona or the muggy backfields of Florida, baseball is starting. Indeed, in the midst of the many trials life may pose, the Reds make their spring pilgrimage without fail, and every new season blossoms with hope. Yet, for as strong our resolve, for as promising our straits each year, baseball has been repeatedly unkind to the Reds fan. For 15 long years, our team has suffered the slow death of the poor and disadvantaged, and by extension, so too has our fandom. For over a decade, Cincinnati has been a sleeping giant; a simmering hot bed of baseball passion, relegated to the lower tier of the standings and forced to pin its hopes on Minor League talent and Major League journeymen. And while other cities have risen to similar challenges and clawed their way into the playoffs, the Promised Land has eluded the Reds. In Cincinnati, home of the first Major League team, baseball has given definition to life, painted the lines between past and present. So, while a nation of sports fans saw Tuesday night's walk-off as a celebration, in Cincinnati it was more.


Young Jay Bruce, one of the many faces of the Reds' future, clinched the first playoff berth in Cincinnati since 1995 with a walk-off home run. It was one of those truly majestic blasts, a no doubter, yet we all sat frozen briefly in time as it soared to straight away center field. With Thom Brennaman joining the City in willing it onward, the ball landed comfortably beyond the center field fence, and the stadium erupted. As the fireworks shook the skies like thunder and the Ohio River danced under the moon, you could sense an awakening of a long dormant franchise. Indeed, for the first time in years, Cincinnati had reason to rejoice. And as Bruce rounded third and came steamrolling toward the plate, the joy of a City showed through on his face. Yes, it's only baseball, but Tuesday was evidence that in Cincy, that phrase has no meaning. The frenzy at home plate would soon surge to the clubhouse and eventually disperse into the night, but it was as if an air of change hung in the air. On that magic night in Southern Ohio, the past truly collided with the present, and baseball had once again marked the time. As a family, Reds fans were reborn, and reminded of everything that is good. And, indeed, what could be again.



Reed Domer-Shank 9-30-2010

2 comments:

  1. Reed...you nailed it. It's great to know I'm not the only one who feels this way and has the great memories referenced in your story. Your first paragraph took me back 15-20 years....Well done

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  2. Thanks for the read. It was hard to put into coherent words what was felt by Reds fans Tuesday night, but I gave it a shot. Undoubtedly, the celebration is Cincy is one we will never forget. Let's keep it going; go Reds!

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