Finding a New Community- in Baseball

The wild ALDS Blue Jays Game Clare mentioned in her post earlier this week marked my (Cathy’s) induction into a new community.   The “baseball fan” community.  This may seem strange to people who know my family well, as they see us as a baseball family.  Both of my children were catchers in elite ball.  They toured the United states, and played in several world series tourneys. They trained year round.  My husband was a coach and scout.   For twelve years, every weekend during the official season I attended a baseball tournament in some city or other.  As the dutiful and loving wife and mother, I was ever supportive: cheering in the rain, patching their injuries; cursing poor sportsmanship, and; washing smelly baseball socks in hotel laundry mats in the dead of night.  Even today, with my children well into adulthood, my son coaches a rep team; my daughter plays on several adult softball teams; my husband is a rep pitching coach;  and I still attend some games. But it has always been their passion, not mine.  I was, and am, an artsy.  To their chagrin  I still occasionally refer to their uniforms as costumes and their practices as rehearsals.

This all changed this past season and Wednesday was the culminating event.  This year, I decided to be an “insider.”  I worked hard at not watching, but belonging.  I wanted to have a team .  I learned the names of all of the Jays players and their positions.  I learned about them as people, and watched specials about their lives and how many obstacles they had to overcome to get to wear a Jays cap.   I picked a favourite player, Jose Bautista, and proudly wore his name and number on the back of my new T-shirt.  I even wore a cap. Strangely,  I felt akin to complete strangers who also wore Bautista garb.   I quickly learned that I could cheer and sing, wave towels and even dance in the street after a game in Toronto, and it was smiled upon.  (As an artsy I would have willingly  done this anytime, but my husband would not have necessarily smiled!).  I even found a vendor outside of the Rogers Center who served gluten-free wieners, and brought my own bun so I could eat hot dogs like everyone else.  I learned it is work to belong to a new community- any community- but you have to really want it.

On Wednesday I watched the game at home with my husband and found myself  on the edge of my seat.  I was so tense!  I waved a towel to support my pitchers; Stroman, Sanchez, and Osuna.  I found myself yelling in protest in the 7th inning when  Toronto catcher Russell Martin’s return throw to the mound hit Choo’s bat and Odor raced home.  I shouted and danced when my man, Bautista, hit that remarkable home run.

As I reflect on this now, I have to laugh.  I actually know these players’ names.  I am emotionally involved in people I don’t even know.  I have acquired a new language, and a different way to communicate with people .  I can and want to discuss the plays, highlights, and quirks of the game.  I was texting friends and family throughout the game- about the game.  My son was lucky enough to be at the game and I waited up for him so I could talk to him about it- actually needed to talk about it!

I feel like I am part of something. It was worth the effort.  I suspect I still may slip up and refer to practices as rehearsals, but that is okay.  My literacy research informs me we belong to many communities and foster many identities.  I am no longer just the artsy and the baseball mom and wife. I am a FAN.jays game             My husband and I on our way to a game with my new-found community.

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