Baseball is unique sportPublished 8:11am Tuesday, April 3, 2012
With the Major League Baseball season getting under way, I’ve been thinking a lot about how unique the sport known as America’s pastime really is.
All football fields, soccer fields, basketball courts and hockey rinks are the same size, but baseball fields, at the Little League, middle school, high school, minor league and major league levels, are many times different from town to town or city to city.
You can tailor your ball park to the kind of team you have. If you have a singles and doubles hitting team, you can move the outfield fences back, and if you have a home run hitting team, you can move them in.
You have the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium in New York, the short green monster wall in left field at Fenway Park in Boston and the short Crawford Boxes in left field at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
In 1956, when the Dodgers first moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, they played a few years in the Los Angeles Coliseum before the building of their current home Dodger Stadium.
The Coliseum, a famous football stadium which the University of Southern California Trojans have called home for many years, had to be converted during the summer for baseball. Cconsequently, it was a very short distance down the right field line.
At the time, the Dodgers had an outfielder named Wally Moon who hit a lot of home runs that way and they came to be known as Moon shots.
I don’t think the distances of the outfield fences from home plate, would have been able to stop all-time greats like Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays from hitting them over the fence and into the stands. Great hitters simplay get the job done.
While football might be a more physical sport, and basketball might require more finesse and mobility, I believe the single most difficult thing to do in any sport is stand 60 feet, 6 inches away from a pitcher throwing a baseball between 95 and 100 miles per hour and try to hit it with a wooden bat.
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player ever to compete in that sport, tried baseball and struggled.
Watching a Major League Baseball game in person or on television, you cannot really get any concept of how fast the ball is traveling from the pitcher to the hitter.
It is like a blur, and if the batter does not have great hand eye coordination, he has little or no chance to hit it.
I hope many local people will have the chance to make it to Atlanta to see an Atlanta Braves game this season.
I guarantee you will enjoy yourself. As the late great Braves announcer Skip Caray used to say, you can’t beat fun at the old ball park.
Joe Crine is the sports editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org