The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But 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.
Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams
The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate America and all the wonderful things that distinguish us as Americans: barbecue, beer, blowin' stuff up and, best of all, baseball, America's pastime.
Beautifully simple yet infinitely complex, baseball is a game whose principles even the youngest child can grasp. Yet after a lifetime of devotion, even the most ardent fan can be left scratching his head after seeing something at the ballpark he'd never seen before.
From T-ball through adult recreation league softball and all the backyard wiffleball games in between, baseball is a game that stays with us our entire lives. The names of the pros change like the seasons themselves, but the simple joys of the game remain constant: the crack (or ping) of the bat meeting the ball, the smell of a worn leather glove, the feel of the dirt under your feet as you scramble the base paths.
Take a look around East County and you'll see the game being played and loved at all levels: Antioch native Aaron Miles is enjoying the best year of his Big League career, batting .328 in nearly 200 plate appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.
Brentwood native and recent Liberty High School grad Drew Gagnon is weighing signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who selected him in the 10th round of this year's draft, or playing at NCAA powerhouse Long Beach State next spring.
The area's youth baseball and softball teams not only represent their hometowns well; they bring home massive amounts of hardware in the process. And adult softball leagues are thriving, drawing players of all ages and abilities.
The game continues to grow and evolve, the names of our favorite big leaguers change like the seasons, but our love for the game remains constant if anything, as last year's MLB attendance records indicate, our love for the game has grown only stronger over the decades.
So, this Fourth of July, fulfill your patriotic duties: Barbecue a dog, enjoy an adult beverage or two, take in a fireworks show and play ball!