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Baseball is Fun

Watch this old footage from 1946 of Goose Tatum of the Indianapolis Clowns

These shoes are so fun
These shoes are so fun
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

G'head, watch the whole thing. It's eight minutes, I know, and then you'll probably spend another eight minutes (hopefully) reading about what I have to say about this, but I'm confident you will not regret it.

Also, I have to credit Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) for tweeting this and bringing it to my attention. He is a great follow if you don't already.

I don't know anything about Goose Tatum. Well, after watching this, I can say I know that he was a man who had fun playing baseball. So I know that I can relate to that. But that's about everything I know about Goose Tatum.

Baseball is fun. And, for me, as I imagine for many of you, I became aware of that truth fairly early in my life. My brother and I would toss the ball most every day in the summer, though the yard around our house wasn't really all that conducive to it. The yard was about an acre length-wise and only about 50 feet across, with a dusty country road in front and a deep ravine in back. So we would line ourselves down the narrow alley on the northwest side of the house, between the cinderblock wall and the hillock that bumped up into the neighbor's yard, and we would take turns as pitcher and catcher. He was three years older than me and so could fling it three years faster than me, and I whined to him to take it easy on me, and I know he hated that. And every now and then the ball would skip passed and across the road or down the ravine and into the weeds, but that just meant we had to get really, really good at making good throws and good catches.

And my best friend and I would spend alternating weekends at each other's houses and his dad (he was kind of a drunk and physically and verbally abusive of his family) would tell me I wasn't allowed to come into his house unless I brought my glove with me. Baseball was serious and I couldn't stay if I didn't come to play. And I thought that was kind of a silly thing to say because obviously I brought my glove and clean underwear and my toothbrush too in case he wanted to check my backpack. I mean, duh.

My best friend lived across the way from the elementary school so we would walk over there and take turns pitching to each other and playing home run derby. He grew up a bit faster than me so he was always a better athlete. I honestly don't think I ever once beat him.

The baseball field sprawled out behind the school, with a few basketball courts ringed by fences (we called them "the pens") between the field and the school. There was that game in sixth grade when Wes Keller socked a moonshot into the pens. It was probably 350 feet (which is like a mile and a half when you are 12) from home plate and the fence around the pens was like 15 feet high. It was truly a rare sight to see a kid hit one into the pens. But I was there. I saw it. And that would have been an incredible tale to tell on its own, but wait for it.

Liz Hambrick was in the pens at that moment, playing basketball. We watched the ball arch through the evening sky with equal amazement and horror as it went straight at her in excruciating slow motion. And the baseball knocked the basketball out of her hands. It could have sent her to the hospital, but all it did was give us a two-run lead and an unbelievable story to tell.

Yeah, I wouldn't believe it happened if I had read it on the internet, either. But it happened.

Baseball is so fun. I watch that video of Goose Tatum and I count like a million fun things there. I mean, he's smoking half the time. And that Dixieland rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame is sooooo fun. And you look at the guy and you think, "He looks about as goofy as Hunter Pence" and then you think "Ooohhhhh he's trying to be goofy and Hunter Pence is probably trying with all his little heart to look serious and professional" and my God that's so much fun.

There are days in late August when old-enough-to-be-president Chase Utley brutalizes your staff ace and the Reds get nine hits but can't score a run and Ross Ohlendorf can't find the strikezone (and why is he even pitching at all) and they've played a great few months but are still 20 games under .500 and why are they playing a four-game series against the Dodgers and it seems all that baseball can do right now is produce things about which the only reasonable response is complaint. And you get cranky.

And then you see a short video from 70 years ago of a man having the time of his life playing baseball and that dude on first knows the whole damn time that you are trying the hidden-ball trick and dammit you gotta commit to it if you ever want it to work and oh man baseball is so fun. So much fun.