“Home” by Ken Burns
It’s a beautifully designed game. Timeless, but always changing. It’s a game in which the defense always has the ball; and a game in which every player is measured by the ghosts of all who have gone before.
For more than 150 years, baseball has been a mirror of the complicated country that gave it birth.
From California to the New York islands, through good times and bad, through wars, depressions, and civil strife, it has entertained us, it has inspired us, and sometimes, it has even transformed us.
We pass it down from mothers to sons, fathers to daughters, as every generation invests itself in the sweet hope of springtime and endures the painful realities of fall.
Its essential dimensions never change, yet nothing ever happens the same way twice. It is a game in which the person scores, not the ball; where the objective, always, is to come home.
Home, where no asks where you come from or who you voted for.
Home, where all season long, we congregate to cheer and plead, laugh and cry in the magnificent cathedrals of our game – the places, the poet Donald Hall says, “where memory gathers.”
Home, where every October, baseball’s greatest stars do battle.
Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the powerful sense of belonging, and the freedom from time’s constraints than does our National Pastime.
It is the place we always come back to – home.
Why are American’s crazy about baseball?
I’ve been asked many variations of this question that usually follow up with this statement, “Baseball is so boring.” I never really understood some people’s disinterest in the sport. I was never really able to give a fair rebuttal to that point. My answers were too personal, a connection I made with the game. So there, maybe many people didn’t even really understand my own interest in the sport.
Right there in front of me was always that question, “Why do I like baseball?” Was it the entertainment? Was I born into it? What sparked my interest for that matter America’s interest in the sport of baseball?
Of course I enjoyed the entertainment that’s why I watched it but that answer didn’t seem deep enough. It didn’t seem like the real reason as to why I was so attracted to this game.
I certainly wasn’t born into it. My parents were never too interested in baseball until I became obsessed in my early years.
So there it was again, why was even America or I so interested in baseball? There didn’t seem to be a strong answer.
Until I heard Ken Burn’s poem, “Home” played before Game 1 of the 2011 World Series. It has been America’s rock, when in times of hardship. It has created legends and memories that have lived in every young American at some point in their life. It has mirrored the story of America from its birth to its current age. History is always retained in the game and no one is forgotten.
It is also unique in the sense that it is not territorial in nature. The winner is never determined until the last out is made. There is no clock, and both teams have the same amount of chances to score. It is also one of the only few sports were the defense controls the ball.
Baseball’s American rural roots created a game full of innocence and majesty. Unlike other sports, the start and stop motion leaves a lot of downtime in the game. Fans began to bond over the game and converse. People are able to see strategy develop and place their own predictions in the game. Nothing seems to be rushed.
The romanticism of going to a baseball game on a hot summer day, sitting in seats amongst fellow fans, who are loyal to the same cause has been an event going on for over 150 years. It welcomes the warmth and life of spring and summer. There are also at least 80 homes games a season for a team, bringing the games always near the fan and also leaving it relatively cheap.
The family environment is inviting for people of all ages. Its nonviolent and innocent nature welcomes children of all ages. While the games the complexity of strategy and memories lures the interests of adults.
The player’s jerseys allows them to be visible to the fan. The face, the emotion, the body language is public for everyone to see. The stop and start component of the game allows people to study and understand the players as people.
The game is also in a constant sense of equilibrium. The distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate has never changed. 90 feet has always been the distance between the bases, which have never made it too easy or too hard for fielders and runners to reach. The rules allow creative outs to be performed like in a “double play”. The physical layout of the game is perfectly adjusted to the human skills it is meant to display and to call into graceful exercise.
The game allows people of all shapes and sizes to play. There is no one dominant physical trait like height in basketball. Each body type has its own unique rule in the game of baseball. Adding on to the uniqueness to the game.
I’ve been playing baseball for all my life. My friends and I would play in the backyard every sunny day. A bat and ball, a batter and a pitcher, a plate and a mound, there was just something so innocent and exciting about it, it still seems to be indescribable. I have always loved the game and for me, there is something that speaks to me on the most primal level. Of course, not everyone will be able to experience the same love for the game or even understand it. But for those of us who do, it feels 100% reasonable.