The fever. You either have it or you don’t! Since the very word “fever” usually denotes a malady, many would agree that planning your entire summer schedule around a ball and a bat is somewhat insane. This insanity has been contagious ever since the late 1800s when Abner Doubleday made it an official game back in Cooperstown, New York.
St. Louis is one of those “fever” towns, except for those who either just don’t get it, or just don’t care. That’s my friend, Lynne. Everybody, I mean everybody, becomes a fan during the playoffs – and especially during the World Series! Not Lynne. She sees it as a perfect time to go grocery shopping, or to have the mall to herself while all those “fools” are watching the game.
I don’t understand. Lynne and I have been friends since we were toddlers. Our dads played baseball together in school and on an old town team all the time we were growing up. Admittedly we had more fun playing hide-and-seek under the bleachers; but eventually there comes a time when you begin asking questions and want to know what all the screaming is about. Not Lynne. When our brothers played Little League and high school baseball together, I became pitcher on the girls softball team and loved it. Not Lynne. It wasn’t that she was a prissy, “girly girl” – she just wasn’t interested. She loved reading, and would rather read about it than watch it! Go figure.
Lynne married right out of high school and she married a farmer, also not a baseball fan. Lynne and Bill had boys – no girls. Hunters, fishermen, readers. No baseball players. Through the years our friendship remained solid – so did her baseball apathy. Through years of great seasons, World Series and new stadiums, Lynne was consistently never present. Names like Hernandez, Torres, Ozzie, LaRussa and Pujols mean nothing to her… well, maybe Pujols.
So here we are, having gone from Wild Card to World Series, the whole city a sea of red, amidst squirrel tails and cardinals, and Lynne is going to visit her mother out of town! She said that there wouldn’t be too many cars on the road. And besides, all of her friends were going to the game or having Game Watch parties, so there really wouldn’t be anything to do. Seriously? People are paying thousands of dollars for tickets! pennants, T-shirts and memorabilia are selling like Ted Drewes Custard on July the 4th. I even had tickets fo a game earlier in the year and invited her to just come and experience the phenomena. . “Thanks,” she said. “But I am really just not interested.” But now we are heading to the World Series and she doesn’t even care! Kids care. Old ladies care. Even my dog is sporting a Cardinals shirt. And Lynne is at her mother’s reading a book!That’s unpatriotic – even bordering on sacrilegious. After the playoffs hit, even non-sports enthusiasts are supposed to become enthusiasts. It’s the American thing to do. I told her, “You know, Baseball, Mom and Apple Pie!” She assured me that she and her Mom would make an apple pie and watch Phantom of the Opera on DVD.
So here we are, Sunday night’s game to determine if we get to go to The World Series. It’s the seventh inning and we are ahead of Milwaukee 11-6. I just couldn’t resist calling her at a commercial break. Surely she would want to know that we were winning! “How ’bout those Cards,” I mockingly scream into the phone. To my utter surprise she roars back, “YES! Cards! Canasta or bridge? I’m just so glad the World Playoffs are over!”
Cards, anyone? Sorry, I’ve got a fever.
Debra Peppers, a professional speaker for 25 years, was one of only five inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame upon her retirement from Lindbergh High School. A member of the National Speakers Association, she has traveled to all 50 states and 60 countries teaching others that if she can go from being a 250-pound high school dropout, to Teacher of the Year there is hope for every child and adult. For info, visit www.pepperseed.org