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Spring: Flowers and Baseball

April 7, 2017

I keep stumbling into things. Preparing for my monthly visit to an assisted living center, I decided on a Spring theme. The month before, I had asked them what the word “Spring” conjured up for them. There were two strong responses: flowers and baseball. So – why not do a program on both? Voila!

I already had a great Ojibwe folktale describing how the great Nanabozho created first – the colors of the flowers and second – a rainbow. During my research for this tale, I discovered that there were many First Nation stories about flowers: ex. the Ottawa story about their tribal flower: the trailing arbutus.

flowers

But I had no stories – or knowledge – about baseball. There were dim memories of my first year of teaching at Silverado Junior High in Napa, California. Our principal, deans, and many teachers were fervid baseball fans. Therefore, the World Series was broadcast over the school loudspeaker system – much to the chagrin of un-informed and illiterate teachers like me. Then I remembered a book written by a prominent historian, a memoire of her childhood –  including her love affair with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I found the book in the library.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “Wait Till Next Year” is a delight. With a deft and unsentimental touch, she brings back memories of growing up in suburban New York in the 40’s and 50’s. Her love of baseball began early:

“When I was six, my father gave me a bright-red scorebook that opened my heart to the game of baseball. After dinner on long summer nights, he would sit beside me in our small enclosed porch to hear my account of that day’s Brooklyn Dodgers game. Night after night he taught me the odd collection of symbols, numbers, aned letters that enable a baseball lover to record every action of the game.”

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Doris had the great good luck to fall in love with baseball at the beginning of a grand era for New York fans. Between 1949 – 1957, all three New York teams: the Giants, the Yankees, and her beloved Dodgers competed in the World Series. She describes her first actual game at Ebbets Field:

“I reached over instinctively to hold my father’s hand as we wended our way to seats between home plate and first base, which like thousands of seats in this tiny, comfortable park, were so close to the playing field that we could hear what the ballplayers said to one another….I was witness to a splendid game… the Dodgers won 4 – 3.”

What a wonderful resource… it brings back an era my audience will remember and a sport that many of them followed as avidly as Doris. Play ball!

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