It's been a while, but here's Mrs. Orel with a travelogue:
For Dodger fans, spring signifies trips to Camelback Ranch, Opening Day at Dodger Stadium and renewed hope for a winning season.
For east coast baseball fans, spring signifies wearing shorts, greenery, and a renewed hope for warmth.
After back-to-back brutal winters, New Yorkers and Bostonians are reveling in lighter clothing, sun-kissed cheeks, and the parks, the parks, the parks, where balls are tossed, hit, and caught in freshly unearthed gloves.
Orel and I were in Manhattan, where we observed New Yorkers bouncing around city streets like released prisoners. Central Park, on a Sunday in May, was filled with children chasing pigeons, parents chasing children, and adults chasing softballs.
We plopped ourselves onto the wooden stands at the Hecksher Ballfields as two teams readied to face off. Folks have been playing these six fields since 1927. Central Park is home to 27 baseball and softball fields. Every year, hundreds of games are played by teams of all stripes and ages.
We had the privilege of witnessing teams from a, I want to say, over-50 or over-60 league, but on closer inspection included some younger fellows. Two teams dressed in a mashup of AL and NL shirts and caps. "Warming up" would be a loose description of their preparations. For a full 20 minutes before the first pitch, players squabbled over the position of the third-base bag.
"Here! Right here! I'm tellin' ya...it's 60 feet between bases!"
"Let's go!" from an outfielder.
"What the hell, not there? Are you nuts?!"
"Let's go!" from the same outfielder.
"No, I'm sayin' here!"
"Let's go!" Guess who.
The bickering continued. Was he out, was he safe, could he run (iffy), should he run (iffy), a foul, a strike, a ball...where we eatin' afterwards?
These were New Yorkers let loose after a harsh winter, at the end of what may have been a rough workweek or a slow retirement week, who knows. But their comical joy was as delicious as a pizza slice or pastrami on rye. I'd love to know where they corralled their creaking bones for a beer and somethin'.