3 Ways Baseball Heals Me

As a child growing up a St. Louis Cardinals fan in Missouri I always wanted to go to Spring Training.

Years later when I lived in south Florida, the Cardinals moved their Spring Training facility two miles from my home.

I was in heaven.

I bought Spring Training season tickets when Roger Dean Stadium opened in 1998 and I never looked back.

Even when I moved to Nashville ten years ago, I kept my tickets. Although I only get to watch one week’s worth of games each year, I still make my annual trek to Jupiter, Florida.

My Spring Training journey starts baseball’s annual healing process in me.

The Cardinal great Rogers Hornsby once eloquently said,

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

I like football, hockey, and college basketball as sports, but after the World Series it is a long dry spell until pitchers and catchers report in mid-February.

I have a job where it seems I can never make everyone happy and I can never do everything I would like to do. By late February, I am eyeing the end of the spring semester, usually running on fumes, and praying I make it to graduation.

Then along comes Spring Training.

I find myself counting the days, checking the Cardinal news, watching the weather, and longing for the intimacy of Roger Dean Stadium.

Over the last sixteen years I have learned that baseball heals me and Spring Training starts the annual healing process.

Baseball heals me because it makes me slow down.

I write dozens of emails each day, go to meetings and more meetings, and never find the end of my “to do” list. It doesn’t matter how hard, fast, or efficiently I work, I never catch up.

In my digitally compressed culture of immediacy, I find baseball healing because it makes me slow down.

The end of the game never comes around until there have been a couple hundred pitches, dozens of swings of the bat, and more than fifty outs.

Baseball reminds me that life is measured out in moments connected by purpose. Each pitch, each swing, and each out matter to each inning.

Baseball heals me because it reminds me to focus on the moment and not the list.

Baseball heals me because it reminds me I am not in control.

Maybe you are like me and you would like more control in your life. You cannot always help solve problems the way you would like to see them solved.

The pitcher will hold the ball until he wants to pitch it. The batter will swing when he decides to swing.

This may happen twenty or thirty times in an inning. With each pitch I have to wait to see what happens next.

Baseball helps me let go and wait for something amazing to happen.

Baseball heals me because it gives me hope.

I am fortunate to be a fan of a team that has had a lot of success in recent years. The hope I get doesn’t come from the anticipation of another year in the playoffs or knocking on the door of the World Series.

Baseball is filled with loss. The best hitters make outs 7 out of 10 times. The best teams lose at least one third of their games. Not everyone makes the team.

Sometimes baseball writes a great story like 2013 when the Red Sox won the World Series and put the period on “Boston Strong.”

The hope of baseball, though, usually hangs on a single pitch or batted ball or player chasing down a hit deep into the outfield. It is that moment we lean into to see what happens next.

Baseball heals me because it shows me how to pay attention to everyday moments in my life.

The healing process begins in Spring and carries through the long days of summer until the leaves fall. By the end of the season, even if my team does not win it all, I find that I am whole again.

Baseball heals me.