Every year about this time, baseball fans look to bookstores for a few new books to fit on their baseball book shelf. I frequent the many used bookstores in Madison, WI to pick up copies of older books that are often just a few dollars. In recent weeks, I've read two books by Thomas Boswell, Heart of the Order and How Life Imitates the World Series. Both of these are collections of his baseball writings from the late 1970s and early 1980s. I'd highly recommend them to anyone that enjoys quick, but well-written, baseball tales of players and personalities that have long since left the playing field.
I was recently browsing a used bookstore and came across a similar collection by Roger Angell titled Late Innings. Like the Boswell books, this is a collection of Angell's acclaimed baseball columns, and is a very enjoyable book for any baseball fan. What really drew me to the book, however, was a touching inscription on the first pages of the book. Written by a father to his son, this inscription was especially meaningful for me, as the son to whom the book was inscribed is also named Andy.
With Opening Day nearly upon us, I thought I'd share this inscription with you:
Baseball is a jewel of many facets. It is the innocence and energizing skills of a Cub Scout softballer. It is the cavorting delight of a pick-me-up neighborhood sandlot game. It is the semi-comic adult intensity surrounding a Little League contest, and the sub-conscious adult affectations of the Little Leaguers.
It is the hopes and expectations on Opening Day of an otherwise amorphous horde, unified & partially civilized by their allegiance to a common dream.
It is the bitter-sweet experience of attendance at a late September game of two teams who are by then running not in a pennant sprint, but only out the season's clock.
It is a harmony of mind and body-like ballet-except that baseball's skills are forged and honed in a furnace which demands not only grace, but victory, and in view of millions.
It is something which enraptures even as it saddens.
It is something which uplifts even as it frustrates.
It is subjective, and yet it is honest.
It is something we have shared, and I am grateful.
One of the first things I thought after quickly purchasing the book was how anyone would ever sell a book that appears to have so much personal meaning. My hope is that the book was sold to the book store by someone who was unaware of the inscription and the meaning it must hold.
I know that the book will hold a place of honor on my bookshelf.