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WOLF: No taking me out to the ballgame again this year

COLUMN: Sights, sounds of spring not the same without baseball
The trusty old Rawlings glove sits flat, unused and lonely for another baseball season. (Philip Wolf photo)

I look outside and I see nothing but grey.

It’s still March. The temperature hovers near 6 C. I hear exactly zero birds chirping.

While I generally enjoy the smell when it rains, it’s entirely the wrong smell today.

My trusty, decades-old Rawlings mitt sits, flat and lifeless. It knows.

As I write this, it’s Opening Day (North American version) for Major League Baseball.

A time of great joy, an annual renewal of sorts. Except I’m pouting a little bit.

For a second straight year, it’s no ballpark for me.

A year ago at this time, I had bigger things to worry about. Coming off significant surgery, focusing on recovery was top of mind.

Now, though I’m (knock on some fine Canadian maple) nearing the finish line in that vein, repeated trips to any diamond aren’t in the cards for this year.

Which sucks.

And while watching non-playoff baseball on TV, or checking on my fantasy teams may pass the time, it still pales in comparison to being at the park.

Awhile back, I listed some of the best smells and sounds in the world.

You could easily populate those lists simply with baseball references.

As soon as I get the first whiff of freshly-mown grass, it’s ball season.

I’m instantly transported back to Duncan, grabbing on to my Mum’s hand as she walked an unsure seven-year-old me up to the dugout for my first practice.

(Anyone else feel something is wrong when you drive through the city these days and the ballfields aren’t there anymore?)

So many memories, all of which come flooding back by (and yes, the family thinks it odd when I do this) walking around with my face buried in the old Rawlings.

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Baseball was always my favourite sport to play. I played them all, but there was just something about the strategy of baseball that set it apart.

Not being especially good didn’t faze me. I found by devouring information and having a reasonable sense of observation you could have a modicum of success.

“Watch, he’ll stick his tongue out every time he throws his curve.”

As a pre-teen, I spent a ridiculous amount of hours tossing a lacrosse ball against the giant brick wall at the school behind our house.

Timing short-hop picks with the funky second bounce. Air fist bump if you’re picturing that bounce right now.

In addition to the practices and games, we played with ping pong balls and sticks or plastic tubing. With tennis balls and hockey sticks. Nerf balls and badminton racquets. You name it.

Anyone remember ‘scrub’? It was no trouble at all to find a group of neighbourhood kids (or at school during recess) for a game.

Does that happen anymore?

I played all the way up through my teens. Fastball as a young adult.

Learned to almost enjoy slo-pitch (tip… do not ever write a column about how it’s a recreational activity, not a real sport; softball guy will come for you) as I got older.

Then the real joy – coaching.

Coached my son all the way through until he aged out. Started with his little brother in T-ball and enjoyed that for years until he and his buddies decided the leisurely pace didn’t match up with the constant flow of the likes of basketball and bikes.

Coaching is as close as you can come to the fun of playing and competing.

But now… nothing.

While I stubbornly refuse to close the door completely on a triumphant return to old guy slo-pitch down the line, it’s not likely at this point.

Which sucks.

For now, I’ll just wander around the house with my glove on my face.

What’s your favourite baseball memory? I’d love to hear about your connection to the game as a player, coach or parent.

Favourite player? Favourite moment? Best smell? Best sound? Best player you ever competed against?

Drop me a line and share those diamond tales.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached via email at or by phone at 250-905-0019.

Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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