INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan's Soul

Introduction

For millions of fans worldwide, baseball is much more than a sport. It is a filter, a backdrop, a canvas against and through which we experience and live our lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in the movies. No sport has had more movies (or books for that matter) produced about it. More interesting though are the type of movies that rate as the classics of the sport. Movies like Field of Dreams, The Natural, Bull Durham, A League of Their Own, For Love of the Game, and for you vintage film buffs, The Pride of the Yankees (in which Babe Ruth has a cameo), are included in almost any Baseball Top Ten List out there. These movies celebrate all that is good about baseball, along with some of the bad for contrast. They portray baseball as a search for meaning, as a sport for the everyman, as a mirror of how we evolve as a culture, as the continual struggle to overcome, as a place where relationships are forged and as an experience that forms the strongest of character traits. They portray baseball as something more than just the American pastime. They portray it as something more like the game of life. This is what inspired us to begin work on Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan’s Soul.

The stories in this book celebrate the full spectrum of the baseball experience. From George Brett’s valiant end-of-season pursuit of his milestone three thousandth hit to an unknown high school baseball coach making his first major-league pitching start—eighteen years after being drafted; from the exuberant innocence of a T-baller’s first game to a sportswriter’s self-described perfect-game-journey back from the depths of cynicism; from a celebration of the bigger-than-life legend of Babe Ruth to the story of the birth and life of the world’s most losing player, Charlie Brown; from a Little Leaguer’s first hilarious, unconventional inside-the-park home run to the unexpected pre- and post-catch adventures of the man snagging Mark McGwire’s seventieth round-tripper; and from the story of a mother who remembers the transitional stages in her son’s life through their shared baseball experiences to the father and son engaged in that timeless, never-ending, full-circle experience called having a catch.

These stories will inspire you, make you laugh out loud, bring a tear to your eye and perhaps cause you to reflect on the things that really matter in life. Within these stories you will find many of the finer qualities of the human spirit. You will find courage, strength, passion, persistence, integrity, love, compassion and a whole host of others. And you will find them not just in the superstars of the game, but in the unsung bit players and everyday heroes that make up the soul of the game. Because what we found as we neared the completion of this heartfelt project is that baseball is indeed more than a game. Or, as Annie Savoy, the self-proclaimed “high priestess of the church of baseball” from the movie Bull Durham might have said, “Baseball isn’t a sport; it’s a religion.”

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