When I was a kid growing up in Northeast Ohio, my favorite baseball player was Rocky Colavito. He would go through a series of calisthenics before each at bat including pulling the bat behind his head and stretching his back and shoulders. Next, he would menacingly point the bat at the pitcher and hold it there until the pitcher was ready to release the ball. I of course followed his routine to a tee throughout my little league career. And although Rocky was a homerun hitter and I was a singles hitter (at my best), I loved emulating my hero.
Baseball also turned me into the stats freak that I remain today. Although I almost flunked algebra and geometry, I could and still can add a column of numbers in my head faster than anyone I know. The history and longevity of baseball always made the stats meaningful. Breaking a record really meant something. And to the thousands like me, knowing and understanding these records was a sacred art.
We were befuddled when the season was lengthened from 154 games to 162. What would this do to the records? Roger Maris would soon find out. How would domed stadiums and artificial turf affect the speed of the game and hitting for average? All of these things kept the stats world abuzz. Thank God we never had to worry about the effects of steroids. That would have put us over the deep end. And that is why I pity the 12 year old kids who were like I was and now must find some other way to while away the hours. It would seem that under the present circumstances, finding meaningful records seems to be a waste of time. I guess Facebook and Guitar Hero will have to do.
I’m glad I had real baseball. I’m glad I had Rocky.