“Go!” I just shouted aloud while alone in my house.

photo by Mark Duffel

I’ve been heart-pumping, nail-biting and clapping hands at the TV a lot lately. I’m watching baseball regularly again after some years off. There was a few reasons for my hiatus.

Following the Yankees this year has been a great reentry to my favorite sport. The team is thriving with a bunch of young talent that is just exciting to watch. And well, it certainly helps that they are winning like they did back when I watched in college. (From 1995 through 2007, the Yankees made it to post-season playoffs each year. And in 1998, when I was regularly attending games as well, they won a record 114 games.)

Those years, if I wasn’t at the game or watching with friends, I would be home watching with my family, especially my father. There was always shouting at the television, in excitement, in thrill or in disdain. When I eventually moved down into my own apartment in the basement, (my sister and her family on the second floor) we’d sometimes watch separately, but the team spirit would bleed through the floorboards. Mom and dad would be thumping on the first floor, sis would be on hers and I’d be banging on my ceiling whenever someone hit a home run or scored. There was, at least during baseball season, always a ruckus.

original photo by Robbie Noble

I got a text on our first day visiting London a few weeks back. It was from my softball team — the one I thankfully happened onto last year, jumping in on a local team that was exactly my pace (not overly competitive, but good enough for a bunch of old guys out for fun). We had just moved up from Jersey, where I played a couple of years with another team (never won a game, but there too… still fun). So I was happy to find them. It was always a welcome weekly outing that fulfilled a number of my needs: social, physical and even mental health. I was excited to get back from London and start practicing for this season.

The text, however, pulled all that out from under me. They apparently had a number of old players returning this year and I guess couldn’t keep me on an already-full roster. I won’t lie, I was heartbroken.

my facebook post externalizing the heartbreak

I showered and slept it off—and my jet lag— as best I could. I emailed the league manager again (as I had last year) in the hopes of hopping on another team in need. (No word yet.)

I’ve done my best to find silver linings: wife and I enjoyed an impromptu dinner date since Nana was booked as sitter for the night of my first game. We played wiffle ball with our neighbors and kids that weekend (hula hoops for bases and all). And I got to see my cousin play as her college softball team played against a local college this weekend. I even went to nearby batting cages yesterday and plunked a bunch of slow pitch softballs from both sides of the plate. (Yep, switch-hitter! Still got it!) These have all been wonderful, but haven’t fully taken the sting out of not playing.

original photo by Bart Jaillet

Though it’s no replacement for playing, watching baseball again has been great. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I stopped watching. My work and social life kinda took off for a few years and keeping up with the long season got away from me.

I left my longtime job in 2010 for the hope of greener pastures. By 2011, I had started dating a girl quite “seriously.” I got married in 2012 and was busy building a home and enjoying newlywed status. Come 2013, my father passed away just as the season was starting and it was all too fresh a wound to be reminded for 162 games. In 2014, my daughter was born and I was busy at-home with our newborn daughter as wife went back to work. The end of 2016 we moved out of state and a had a whole new life to set up. Amid all this there was time for myself, but never enough to commit to a full season.

Settled into our new place—with cable that provided a simple click to record every game—it was time to come home. I have yet to watch a game live and though there’s been some thought given to actually attending a game, no real plans have been made. But even keeping up a day or two behind has been a happy return for me.

Yes, it has made me think of my dad. It has made me think of my family, now a couple states away. It has made me sour a bit over not being able to play softball this summer. But, it’s also brought back a piece of me I haven’t seen in many years.

The guy who gets giddy when a line drive gets through the hole, when a bloop single drops into the gap in center, when the runner gets waved home in a tie game, when a solid base hit breaks up a no-hitter, when the outfielder goes back and runs out of room.

I may be watching alone now, but it feels like home. And I’m banging on that ceiling.

Writer-Artist ✍ Contact: ernio.com →in New Yorker: http://bit.ly/NYernio Find @ernio_art →on Instagram: http://bit.ly/eh-art License →via CartoonCollections.com

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