The Home Run – Why Baseball Moves Us!
-Inspired by the Championship World Baseball League Dominican Republic National Team
The pitcher, a long gangly but strong man whose fingers engulf a base ball like a cobra swallowing a birds egg, leans back atop a carefully manicured elevated dirt mound. He guages his opponent, coils and with a whirl pivots forward on his rear leg and in one motion reversing direction his coiled body whips his arm forward as he lands on his leading foot to release the ball forward. The ball is discharged from his purposeful grip toward the reciever at speed approaching 100 mph. It becomes white blur as it races forward. The hitter, at home plate, can only wait. He waits for the perfect moment to launch his wooden bat attack on the ball in its defiant flight as it seeks the catchers glove. If he is to hit it, it will be mostly learned reflex, executed with expert timing and coupled with his ability to correctly perceive the clues offered his senses and governed by the laws of earth-bound Newtonian physics. The trajectory, the spin, the sound doppler effected sound as the spinning ball approaches fighting thru the density of stadium air. The movement of the ball as it approaches spinning and arching toward the catchers leather gloved embrace gives off its momentary clues as to where it will be when it crosses home plate to the sharp eyed.
Suddenly, with an equal measure of primal brutality and the elegant deft swiftness of martial artist, the batter swings. His flame hardened and machine honed hardwood bat meeting the ball before it can reach stillness in the hands of the catcher. The union of ball and bat emits a loud crack! Like the cracking of thunder in an electrical storm, it fills the surrounding sky. Vibrating the very air with its distinctly musical percussive note. The sound of an electrical discharge. Charged electrons seeking rest but finding only perpetual motion, collisions, and changes in energy state. Sound. Air pressure waves. Reverberations. All in an instant. The slap charges the crowd with its electric energy. The sound echoes off the stadium walls and the very crowd of spectators. It’s the type of bullwhip like crack that makes your spine tingle and the hair on your neck stand at attention. The mind fights for an interpretation and appreciation of what’s transpiring. It seeks to distinguish the blurry white objects location and it’s potential threat to life and limb. Am I in danger from the now kinetically energized white sphere of a baseball? Leather, string, and cork, now deflected away from the hitter by his deliberate and rehearsed swing. The mind immediately becomes aware that a significant amount of mass x acceleration has just been directed into the baseball and this projectile has been set free in to the air. And its near enough to cause injury. Self preservation neurotransmitters are released in the brain and increased alertness follows automatically and involuntarily invoked by your autonomic nervous system. A collective 38,000 plus persons inhales emitting an audible gasp as they spring to their feet and crane necks to follow the accelerating flight of the ball speed off the bat. Thousands of minds burn watts of energy as they attempt to will the balls flight. Fans. They attempt to affect its direction. “Get outta here!,” the home crowd hopes in their hearts to invoke the mythical forces of baseball. The ball rises then arcs downward with a whirling and fizzing sound. A lone outfielder gives mandatory chase. His pursuit, this time, will ultimately be a futile chase. He stretches legs and speeds under the flying balls path hoping to intercept the ball and meet it at its landing point. Finally, the balls flight succumbs to the gravity all earthbound object must obey and begins its downward descent back to earth. But not before clearing the center field fence and leaving behind a frustrated leaping outfielder who crashes in to the outfield fence forcefully but with no chance in hell of interceding its fall to baseball history. As the ball completes its earthbound flight path clearing the outfield wall, pandemonium ensues. The ballpark screens flash “HOME RUN!” “HOME RUN!” Over and over.
Fireworks burst in air as a deafening cheer erupts from the crowd. It’s loud. It’s deafening. It’s equal in decibels to a jet engine. So loud that your own cheers are drowned out and become inaudible to your own self!
It’s a collective throaty scream that is unmistakably human. The outburst stimulates deep seated emotions and instincts buried and sublimated in the primitive human brain. It induces the listener to at once search his recognition memory for a match, an interpretation. “What has caused so many humans to scream out all at once?” the primitive part of ones mind asks itself. For it is not one but many voices in a crescendo chorus belting out and focused in time with each other. Images almost imperceptibly flood the mind: a baby in distress, a woman’s deep cry at the moment of childbirth, a battle cry of charge, a scream of pain? No none of these. The visual cues fill in the required information and allow interpretation. Understanding follows. Thousands jump up and down, smile, wave banners, pump fists into the air in celebration. The visiting team members bow their heads, shrinking away now only slumped figures in the duggout. This is the outcry of joyous revelry! A Home Run! The big one, the grand salmi, the whole enchilada! Yes, yes! There will be joy in Mudville tonight! The home has won. The sweet release of victory flushes thru the arteries oh the fanatics. Pure childlike joy. What a game! There is no doubt. God loves baseball! The Home Run is baseballs warrior archangel Michael swinging his mighty swift sword to change the balance in mans perpetual struggle to overcome the opposition! To win! Thank God for baseball!