13 Comments

THE CRACK OF THE BAT


Balk
“Balk” original watercolor by kayti sweetland Rasmussen”

I like baseball. My father was a big fan and when he was home and there was a game, any game, on the radio, we listened and cheered at the appropriate times. He went to the ballpark whenever he had a chance.

He put a baseball bat in my small hands when I was about eight years old, and shook his head in disgust whenever I missed the ball, which was often. Dr. Advice and I bought two of our grandsons small plastic bats and were entertained on many sunny afternoons watching them learn to play the game. They were pretty decent players by the time they were on their high school teams. Another grandson who lives in the Northwest, did not benefit from our coaching, yet he was a superior player of the game.

A pitcher can commit a number of illegal motions or actions that constitute a balk. In most cases it involves a pitcher pretending to pitch when he has no intention of doing so. If the umpire calls it a balk, each runner takes another base and the batter remains at bat. It could be dangerous indeed depending on how many were on bases. The painting above was taken from an article in the newspaper after a “balk” was called.

I loved the expressions on the faces of the catcher on the left, and the pitcher on the right. Righteous disbelief at its best! Meanwhile, the large bulk of the umpire stands unperturbed and unyielding in the middle, with just the top of the manager’s head peeking out from behind. Unfortunately, I did not write down the players names in my records, but the manager was Tony La Russa, who has recently been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and who managed the Oakland Athletics from about 1986 to 1995. But the painting is proof that the cardinal rule of baseball is ‘never argue with the umpire’

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13 comments on “THE CRACK OF THE BAT

  1. I can well understand the passion of Americans on the game of Baseball. It is the same with Cricket here. I believe Americans were flabbergasted when cricket was introduced a few years ago. After a few hours of cricket being played, someone asked ‘when does the game start’?
    We live within a few hundred meters of a famous cricket museum called Bradman museum. http://www.internationalcrickethall.com/
    I don’t understand cricket. It is very esoteric and I really believe you have to be born with a special well embedded cricket gene.
    A few years ago we had a Prime minister named John Howard, a real cricket tragic, who wanted to introduce a law that migrants wanting to call Australia home ought to understand and have a deep love of cricket. The proposed rule was howled down by those that thought it should be a love of rugby.
    I like that painting of the players very much Kayti. I hope the dispute was resolved amicably.

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    • I really know just enough to get myself into trouble with both baseball and football,and I know nothing at all about cricket! There are a group of young Indian men who have a pickup game at a local elementary schoolyard near my house every Saturday and Sunday. Dr. Advice and Charlie walk over and watch them. Once when we were in Jamaica we hired a driver to take us to some place upcountry, and it happened to be on the day of a big cricket tournament. Instead of describing the beauties of the countryside he spent the entire trip listening to the cricket match and cheering appropriately! There is a wonderful Indian movie called “Lagaan” which we was years ago and I cannot get anymore. Lagaan means tax, and the story was that the people couldn’t pay their taxes to the British who played cricket constantly, so a bet was made that if the poor Indians could win the cricket match they would overlook the tax that year. If they lost they would owe triple taxes. They of course couldn’t play the game, but the sister of one of the British officers felt sorry for them and taught them to play, and of course, they won. It was a good movie.

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  2. Now that I’ve passed along a link to your painting to some baseball fans I know, I must tell you how much I like it. Even someone like me, who really doesn’t follow the game, understands some of the basics, and wrangling over a called balk surely is one. As I recall, arguing over balls and strikes isn’t highly approved, either.

    I used to think baseball was boring, because it was so slow. And my dad was more of a football fan, so we tended to watch that together. But my mother played softball and loved baseball. One of her great delights in the 30s was listening to “Dutch” Reagan announce Cubs games on WHO out of Des Moines. It truly was a radio era – all of the little Iowa small towns were gathered around their radios when the Cubs played.

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    • Thanks for passing along my link Linda. You are right. Baseball is pretty boring. The beauty is that if you are listening to it on the radio or TV you can multitask, while if you are at the game, that’s pretty difficult. Like yourself, there are a few rules I understand, just as in football and soccer, just enough to let the pros think I’m a “player”! My husband is a college football fan, and we have spent years sitting in hot seats in the sunat Cal, Stanford and Univ. of Washington games. Sometimes in pouring rain with our feet in garbage bags in Seattle! But the tailgate parties before all of them were worth it.

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  3. Fabulous painting, Kayti. A great human moment.

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  4. The painting is a very nice one. You are quite talented. I really enjoyed reading about baseball since I like the sport a lot. When I was younger I knew just about all the major league players: Williams, Feller, Musial, Berra, to name a few. My dad played sandlot baseball with a county league before I was born. I still have his glove stored somewhere in a box of keepsakes.

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    • How lovely that you have kept your Dad’s glove. A nice memento. It’s more difficult today to keep the players and their teams lined up. In the old days they joined a team and stayed forever. Now that they are free agents they go with the money. But it’s still a great game and a great way to spend an afternoon. Thanks for reading. Kayti

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  5. Finally am organizing my blogs after the death of Google Reader and here you are.

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  6. It just so happens that I’m going to a baseball game this weekend. Great story, and another wonderful painting. 🙂

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