Baseball has returned. Let us observe a moment of silence in reverence for our hallowed game, followed by an even longer moment of stifled groaning in thankfulness for outdoor baseball stadiums and coaching visits to the mound.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit Target Field on a beautiful Saturday in April. It was a rapturous afternoon, filled with ketchup-smothered wieners and firm, prolonged eye contact with strangers. Those fragrant memories have been renewed this spring as I listen on the radio to the Twins beginning their season, as always, by having apparently forgotten how to get an extra-base hit. Hearing the impatient murmuring of the crowd after yet another ground out, I am transported not only to the glory last year, but to the transcendent, collective past of our nation – when Babe Ruth slugged homers by day and prostitutes by night.
Being a man of modest means, I do not have cable, and so I can’t watch the games on TV. Radio announcer Dan Gladden’s plebian staccato soothes my financial worries, allowing me to lounge in my backyard, covered only by my silken bathrobe. It’s actually quite wonderful – I enjoy all the comforts of home, with all the shouted swear words of my neighborhood, while indulging in my imaginary friendship with Dan Gladden. In my mind, he and I play an emotional game of catch, like Kevin Costner and his father at the end of Field of Dreams. Then perhaps Dan Gladden would show me how to throw a curveball and kiss a woman.
It is a little known fact that in 1994, Dan Gladden played a season in Japan, and was despised for his hard-nosed style and golden mullet. His beautiful American antics provided the inspiration for the beloved hit film Mr. Baseball, starring Mustache.
In conclusion, baseball has, over the years, made me the strange and loathesome character that I have become. I hope to pass the gift of baseball on to my son, along with a love for throwing darts and getting into fights. In so doing, perhaps I will have raised up a Dan Gladden for the next generation. Only time will tell.