On a Beach Walk: #70 (Baseball – Ballparks)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today I think about the palaces of the fans known as ballparks to some – baseball stadiums to others.

Ballparks are those places creating a special feeling when hearing the wooden bat hit the ball followed by the roar of a cheering crowd rising to their feet – a bonding moment not only between people and the game, but also between people.

Ballparks are the cathedrals of baseball where people gather to worship with faith and allegiance for their team and yell praise to their cleated heroes. Ballparks are a place where memories are made to be told to the next generation.

I think of places before my time: Cincinnati’s Palace of the Fans, Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl, Cleveland’s League Park, and Washington’s Griffith Stadium.

Many may not remember Los Angeles having a Wrigley Field. Not only the first and one-year home of the Los Angeles Angels, but also the location to television’s Home Run Derby.

There are the classic stadiums of my youth – Forbes Field (Pittsburgh), Connie Mack Stadium (Philadelphia) – previously known as Shibe Park – Sportsman’s Park (St. Louis), Polo Grounds (New York), cavernous Municipal Stadium (Cleveland), Crosley Field (Cincinnati), and others.

All places with their own quirks – yet, places of lore – but these are now gone. Places that may or may not have a sign or plaque commemorating its existence. Places that may be a playground, an apartment complex, a shopping area, a group of office buildings, or something for industry.

Let us not forget Boston’s Braves Field for much of it still stands. Not for baseball, but as a football field for Boston University – today known as Nickerson Field. An old ticket booth remains as a tribute to its past. One can sit in the stands imagining Spahn and Sain, then praying for rain – or slugger Eddie Mathews and other greats who played on this field.

A few teams played in temporary facilities as they waited for their new home – Houston’s mosquito-infested Colt 45 Stadium, Montreal’s quaint Jarry Park, and the Dodgers playing is a make-shift for baseball layout of massive LA Coliseum, which included a temporary high left field fence that made Moon Shots famous.

These ballparks gave way to the circular masses of concrete and steel known as multi-purposes stadiums that hosted baseball and football. Fortunately, most of them had shorter life spans than their predecessors. Not only is Atlanta’s multi-purpose stadium gone, so is it’s replacement.

The current generation of ballparks try to emulate the feel of those ballparks of long ago, but with modern conveniences and design. Yes, New York’s Yankee Stadium still exists, but it is not The House that Ruth Built – yet the city and franchise honors the original location.

For fans of baseball history, fortunately Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field stand of iconic tributes to the past. One has to wonder how long they will last – but for now, there is no end in sight … and for some of us, that’s a good thing.

No matter if in the old, new, or bygone, ballparks are places where vivid memories are made to be recalled – places where one can close their eyes and recall a past moment – a past hero – a past place as Ebbets or Crosley that stand no more, yet occupies a special place in the minds and hearts of their fans.

Ballparks are a special place – but so are beaches because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #69 (Baseball – The Season)

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(Part 2 of 3)

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Every mid-February while many are in the midst of winter’s firm grip, the time as come for pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training.

February-March is the time of the year when baseball hearts emerge from the cold ground as those initial shoots of daffodils. A time when interest and hope are in the air as our Boys of Summer prepare for the annual Rite of Spring.

To baseball fans, spring is a time of hope, resurrection, and anticipation – a time for believing this is the year. To some, that hope may be dashed by mid-May, but hearts remain loyal to their team. There’s always next year! Even while languishing in the cellar, hearts still rejoice with each win – and feels low with each loss.

Baseball is a game played by fan favorites – the icons and legends. Lovers of the game can feel the presence of Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig, Hornsby, and Musial while cherishing the Big Train, the Iron Horse, Wee Willie, Double X, and many more. Unfortunately, most if us knew very little about Satch, Josh, and Cool Papa.

Baseball fans know their childhood heroes as Charlies Hustle, Yaz, Doggie, Little Joe, the Say-Hey Kid, Duke, Mr. Cub, and Pops while fearing the Big Swish, King Kong, and Killer.

Baseball fans appreciate generational links as Ken Griffey Senior and Junior – the 3 generations of Boones or Bells.

The successful careers of brothers as the Alous is difficult to comprehend – let alone contemplating that Boog Powell should have been one of them.

Baseball – that national fascination that grew with the Golden Age of Radio. The game causing families to gather around a large box in the living room to cheer their heroes. A game that a future US President would recreate in a studio from a telegraphic ticker.

Every city has revered radio announcers – names that fans elsewhere may not know – but to locals, these are trusted voices who speak for them. Therefore, it is fitting that the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York has an announcer’s wing – yet each fan prefers the voice of the one from our team.

I grew up in a time when people listened to many more games than watching. The Reds on TV were a rare treat to be savoured and not missed.

There was a time when Opening Day was Cincinnati’s day – a day all of baseball reserved for its first professional team – a day marking the season’s beginning for the entire baseball universe. This was done at a time before baseball sold its soul to cable TV in the name of money – even opening on another continent – but Cincinnatians ignore everyone and keep its traditions by hosting their Opening Day like no other place.

Baseball season is a marathon – not a sprint. The joy of today will be tempered by the sadness of tomorrow – and that tomorrow will provide the hope for another chance at joy.

There was a time when the October classic was fittingly named and didn’t crown a champion on a cold night in late October or early November. The end of the World Series truly meant the arrival of fall instead of the trumpeting of winter. A time when the leaves would swirl in empty stadiums and the ivy on Wrigley’s walls would go dormant – a time when colder temperatures were nearing, but not here yet.

As snows gather on the northern pallacial diamonds – yet we fans wait as flower bulbs below the snow-covered surface for the return of that annual Rite of Spring.

Baseball season is one of the many cycles of life – just like birds flying south for the winter – just like I vacate my northern outpost. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #68 (Baseball – The Game)

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(Part 1 of 3)

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think about the national past-time – the grand ol’ game of baseball.

Yes, baseball – that mathematical ballet played on a green diamond found in a variety of geometric shapes.

Yes, baseball – that timeless game often mirroring society.

Baseball –  the game without a clock – which is contradictory to the hectic nature of today’s everyday life – a life requiring time management and electronic calendars.

Baseball – a game that is more subtle than obvious. A game with a ball controlled by the defense; but hitting the ball causes each defender to move to a place of calculated efficiency in order to prevent something from happening. Yes – baseball is chess on grass.

Baseball – a game of definitives – win or lose – ball or strike – safe or out – fair or foul – most, of which, an independent arbiter decides.

To some, baseball is a kids game played by men – but to me, baseball is a man’s game kids play as they dream of becoming a summer icon.

To its loyal fans, baseball is a game of hope designed to break one’s heart – yet the same hope acts as restoration because tomorrow is a new day and the chance to make amends.

Baseball – played on heavenly green cathedrals for the loving souls. From the fan’s and player’s perspective, yes – truly a Field of Dreams. Not the one beside the cornfield, but the ones with the highly manicured brilliant green grass. Every fan remembers the first time their eyes saw major league grass – the green that forever sticks to one’s soul. Mine was Crosley Field in Cincinnati – Reds vs. Giants in the mid 1960s. Yes, my Reds won that night.

Baseball – a game of anticipation, but with anticipation comes waiting. To me, the young focus on anticipation, but as we age, there is a shift to waiting – yet, baseball provides both.

Baseball – a game filled with artistry – the fluidity of a 6-4-3 double play – the athleticism of an outfielder leaping to catch the ball before clearing the wall for a homerun – a catch that delivers relief to some, but heartache to others.

Baseball – the masterfully pitched game that befuddles batters is a work of a master craftsman – a brilliant painter. A few of the best hitters are professional batsmen who actually fail 2 out of 3 times is pure music.

Baseball – whose exclusion of Blacks spawned the Negro Leagues – and whose inclusion closed them – yet, let us not forget Moses Fleetwood Walker.

Baseball – the game that mirrors society. It’s segregated past broken by Jackie Robinson 17 years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act.

Baseball – a game and a business. Greedy owners and players wanting more is nothing new – actually, close to the age of the professional game. That happens in business – yet today, players act in accordance to their own business decisions. Sadly, the days of a distinguished career in one uniform is slim – but not out.

Baseball – a game that challenges our patience, something that walking the beach does not do because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beech Walk: #67 (The Hidden World)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Eyes allow us to see much – the powdery sand, the waves moving toward shore then gliding across the sandy upslope, the blue sky, the shiny sun and its reflections, plus much more.

When we concentrate to look carefully and closely, we notice so much more. Oh the wonderful details that nature offers us – the designs, patterns, colors – not only here where I walk, but throughout the natural world.

However, today I wonder about the hidden world – the world that we cannot see with the unaided eye. The world that is too small, too far away, too fast, too slow, or even covered or enclosed.

The hummingbird’s wings move fast and appear to us as a blur – yet technology can slow the video enough to capture the elegance of the wing motion and to notice similarities and differences with other winged creatures. The same video technology allows us to analyze fast human motions as running, skiing, skating, swinging a golf club, tennis racket, or baseball bat.

At the opposite end of the scale, technology can capture slow movements of massive structures as glaciers and tectonic plates. Movements that we measure in inches or centimeters per year.

As I peer across the sea, the water covers much that is below. Many things that are large enough to see with the unaided eye, but they are below the water. From ashore we cannot see the mountains, ridges, and canyons below – let alone all the aquatic life. The ocean’s depth is a world without light, so our vision is limited. This is a world of yet-to-be-discovered life. A world containing the lost-then-found; such as the Titanic and other sunken treasures.

Thinking about the water covering all that is below the surface, my mind sees a parallel to what is below the land’s surface. The life – minerals – signs of humanity’s past are not only below, but they are layered with the youngest closer to the top. Technology allows to see whatever is covered.

Whereas our skin and hair cover the internal world within us, various scans and imagery give medical professionals a closer look. The X-ray showing a bone fracture or a tumor. The MRI being able to visualize the brain by peeling it layer by layer like an onion. Laboratory tests that provide a view of much activity in the blood.

I look at my arm thinking about the invisible world that is too small to see with the unaided eye – a world that simple microscopes take us into – the world of single cells. The world of 2 or more groups of like cells organizing into tissues. The world being able to see various parts of a single cell. Parts that work together as a complex machine known as a life form.

Other technologies take us into the world of atoms and molecules that make up those cell parts. Atoms and molecules that are in constant motion – let alone comparing the motion of solids, liquids, and gases.

Telescopes allows us to explore the heavens above. That world has expanded with fly-by exploring missions as Voyager, Cassini, and others give us a closer view of our celestial neighbors, whereas the Hubble telescope delivers fascinating and mystical views of deep space.

It seems my brain hurts as I think about the hidden world that I cannot see because it is too small, too far away, too fast, too slow, or even covered or enclosed – but all of which technology allows us to see or at least understand. Maybe the hidden world is like a secret – that is unknown – but unlike a secret, one to be known.

For me, thinking is about making connections, which helps me understand and wonder about the world. Both of which are important as I walk the beach, after all, I like walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On a Beach Walk: #66 (Communities)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Community is an interesting word – a word with multiple meanings – a word used differently by biologists, sociologists, and the general population.

I’m confident the initial thought for most people fits into the sociological word. In the biological world, a community is a group of different populations of organisms living and interacting together. All the small mouth bass in a specific lake form a population – not a community.

The lake community made up of different fish, turtles, insects, frogs, algae, single-celled organisms, plants, and more – all living and interacting together in various food chains interwoven into a more complex food web.

There is a biological community on this beach that I walk, although I don’t know enough about the organisms here. Another community exists within the shallow water that refresh my feet. Different communities exist with changing depths and distance from shore.

Whereas in terms of biology, we humans are one population of the same species – Homo sapiens – yet we relate to sociological communities – a group of people identifying themselves in a common spirit.

I think of the main (but different) communities in my current life – my neighborhood, my dance friends, my church, the golf club where I work, my golf league – all are groups of different people with common interests. Work and hobbies also unite people into communities.

I grew up in a small town that would be more of a community than a small city – yet the town had neighborhood communities: Sugar Run, Mulberry Heights, Lincoln Heights, Naylor’s Run, and more.

I think about the community of my nearby neighbors in my small town. We kids within a few streets who played together – and the parents who knew each other. Parents who would watch over all of us while we played – or even provide a snack to the group. It seems those days are not only gone, but I question if they will ever return.

A college campus is a distinct community within a municipal community. The two interact in a variety of ways, yet are quite distinct.

I think about the wave of immigrants who left their homeland to find a new life in America and other countries throughout the world. Many live in the same neighborhood, some of which live on today as areas known as Little Italy, Germantown, Chinatown, Greektown, and others.

I think about other types of communities today where people gather for support around a common interest – LGBT, a variety of personal support groups, like hobbyists as knitting, modern trains, Civil War reenactments, wine and many more. Let us not forget the political communities – groups of like-minded people around an ideology.

Technology has created electronic communities. Facebook connects a social network as a way to keep in touch with people you know. Blogs have fostered new connections of people who didn’t know each other and may never meet – yet join together to form a community of common interests, support, and genuine respect – so yes, technology and travel have brought the world community closer.

As I walk the beach on this day, I can’t forget the snowbird communities found here and throughout the southern US. Snowbirds – mainly retired people from northern locations who migrate to the south for warmer temperatures during winter. Snowbirds know that no matter how cold it gets here, it is warmer than home.

Being a snowbird is good because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Beach Walk #65 (Blood)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Some may think blood is a gruesome topic because it associates with vampire bats, vampires, and murders. To others, blood is a spiritual fluid – a soulful liquid of life serving as a commonality across humanity regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and age.

Yes blood – that body liquid that is a noun, an adjective, and a verb; the latter as in to stain, to initiate, to expose.

Blood – each of us have 1.2-1.5 gallons (4.5-5.5 liters) of this precious liquid – a liquid we associate with pressure, cuts, clotting, transfusions, donating, tests, sugar, iron, cholesterol, and more.

Blood – that red liquid circulating around the body within blood vessels – a liquid we link to courage, bravery, tenacity, and strength during times of adversity.

Blood – that red liquid we associate with life with almost 50% of it playing a role of dissolving and transporting nutrients and body chemicals around the body.

Blood – Flooded with enough red blood cells that transport a necessity for cell life – oxygen. Millions of red blood cells occupy a single drop – yet these red blood cells typically live only 120 days.

Blood – that vitally rich substance complete with an identification marking a uniqueness that we associate with blood types and transfusions – yet most don’t know of Karl Landsteiner – the gifted doctor who received a Nobel Prize for his work about blood types.

Blood – our link to family, relatives, lineage, and kinship – our flesh and blood – hence the implication that blood is thicker than water. Yes, blood can tell the family story. Biological blood brothers are related at birth, but other blood brothers are two unrelated males vowing to treat the other as a brother forever and ever.

Blood – the term we associate with courage, strength, battles, tenacity, sweet, and toil – yes – blood, sweat, and tears.

Blood – the temperament or disposition – it boils when passionate or lost with temper, yet can be a cool and controlled for the calm and collective.

Sometimes we associate blood with violence – in cold blood, bloodshed, having blood on their hands, and the blood running cold – even blood and guts to describe a movie or even an all-out effort.

New Blood can signify the young, the fornable, or just the new – but they are different from Blue Bloods – those born to nobility, wealth, privilege, and/or power – but for some, Blue Bloods can be too rich for their blood.

We can make wounds by drawing blood or signifying trouble with blood on the carpet – but we also associate drawing blood with going for victory by probing a weakness when tasting the opponent’s blood – which may not be the team that drew first blood.

Getting blood out of a turnip signifies cheap or trying to get from someone something they don’t have – or having similar difficulty as getting blood out of a stone.

Bull’s Blood is a known Hungarian wine whose name originates with a 16th century legend of Hungarian soldiers gaining strength in their battle with Turkish soldiers from the wine mixed with blood from bulls.

We occasionally see a blood moon, have hostility with bad blood, use blood money as payment for a killing, or simply have something ingrained in their blood.

The blood of lovers may not be the same, but their blood and love pursue each other in an effort to become one. The blood of lovers may not be the same, but it’s the blood that move the love throughout the body spreading the special feel from head to toe.

The blood of love is hot when the love is passionate. The blood of love is the glue during the good times and the bad.

Blood is something to think about on this day. Yes – blood is a simple term, but its meaning is deep and it carries many meanings. Blood is more than a random thought, but it is worth thinking about while walking the beach. Afterall,  walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Beach Walk #64 (Creativity)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Creativity is a powerful word – so are related words create and creative. These words of similar meaning, but create is the verb, creativity the noun, and creative the adjective – but today I think of these words as a collective.

My first thought is about those creative with their hands – sowers, quilters, crafters, 3-dimensional artists as potters, sculptures, and others. Definitely not my strength, but these are skills that can be learned.

To some, creative people can draw and paint. Whereas some seem to be naturally gifted with this skill, but nope again, not my strength.

I think of an art teacher who once told me that anyone can learn to draw because there are four things to do – draw straight lines, draw curved lines, establish the proper proportions between them along with the correct angles. His words opened the world of drawing to me because I could now see the world through a different lens – a world that I did not know.

Did that improve my creativity? Oh yes, but I still don’t draw well because I didn’t practice, yet, there are times I look at something in terms of straight lines, curves, proportions, and angles – and yes – I see them!

One aspect of creativity is being able to think outside the box. A different way that others don’t. Now that I can do. Some see the solution as choice A, B, or a compromise of the two. The creative thinkers are the ones that find a new solution beyond those choices.

An architect told me that he has to have at least one architect in his office that is creative in his designs. Not necessarily abstract or modernistic looking – but one who finds a creative solution that meets the client’s wants and needs. A skill that not all architects have. But for those who have visited La Sagrada in Barcelona, Spain, Gaudi’s creativity is unique.

Sometimes architects are ahead of their time – but as time moves on, those designs transition into the mainstream. In some cases, even out of date.

Design engineers have to think ahead about future generations of their product. That would be true for a vacuum cleaner – but also for complex equipment as a jet engine. Creativity is an essential ingredient in innovation and improvement.

For scientists as Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and countless others, they thought outside of the box to develop their laws and theories. In general, physicists have a knack for creative forward thinking.

Trade workers as carpenters and plumbers are always problem solving. They face problems on a daily basis requiring a creative solution – and they seem to do it.

The creativity of musicians is impressive. Mozart’s composed music with many notes that can be too busy for some to hear. Think about how many types, styles, and genres of music humanity has created through the creativity of creative musicians.

Creativity is also a gift for writers and poets. A creativity they share through the novels, short stories, poems, and more.

Let us not forget nature’s creativity. It’s changing shapes and designs to optimize efficiency. The designs in shapes and colors seen in the shells on the beach that I walk. The creative ways different organisms capture food. After all, not all beaks and bills of birds are the same because they are specialized for different purposes. Yes, nature’s creativity at work.

All of us have a creative side – but do we use it? Do we develop it? Do we recognize the creativity of others?

Unlike the beach that I walk, creativity has no boundaries. Nonetheless, I enjoy walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.