A few years ago I attended a University of Maryland baseball game on a day that tried to disguise itself as spring. The grass was green and he sky was blue and the hot chocolate was a light, watery brown. Oh, we all tried to keep up the charade, but by the third inning we had put on our winter costumes and shifted our seats periodically to escape late afternoon shadows.
Today was much warmer than that day, but I still fought a winter breeze while surrounded by snowcapped mountains, determined to keep my sleeves rolled up and remain outside in the sun. Suddenly, I was struck by memories of playing softball in high school, of January gyms, February frosts, March mud, trying to get outside for practice, waiting, waiting, waiting for the good weather, sometimes pretending, the bulk of sweatshirts, the swish of windbreakers, the thud of a pitch in the mud, playing on brown grass.
Not quite the crack of the bat, but a batted ball all the same. Sometimes those days don't seem like they really happened, the uniforms, the big yellow school buses with mud caked floors and angry drivers, thrown bats and helmets (yes, that was me), strapping on the shinguards, throwing out baserunners, oh, so much dirt and dust and mud. I've lived double my life since then, skipped much of the last two winters, and haven't played an organized sport since rec league soccer in DC in 2004. But spring, well, spring is always the same wonderful feeling, and every year the sight of Spring Training photos is warmth for the soul.