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Tuesday, 01 August 2006, 9:46 AM
[ Mood: Cool ]
[ Currently: Listening to Rise Against ]
The Baseball Field at Serrano High
Metal cleats click and crunch the concrete walkway. A huge dirt diamond is cut out of grass in the distance. The field is empty, its sleeping. The first step on grass feels good and my mind clears. The grass feels good under my feet; it cushions the pain of walking on concrete. This huge grass and dirt temple, where lives are changed, games are won and lost. This temple is all that matters when one sets foot on it. The sun shines and there is a light breeze. The perfect weather and the perfect sun make for a perfect day. In this moment only one thing matters, the game of baseball and the beautiful field at Serrano High School on which it is played.
The grass smells fresh, smells cut. The grass, light green with little imperfections, dominates the landscape. In the outfield there are no fences so the grass just flows and flows, its light green shining bright in the afternoon sun. The infield grass is also light green, but cut short like that of a fairway. The grass is soft to the touch, easy on the nose, beautiful and absolutely perfect. The grass stains arms, legs, and cloths. It itches your skin, a temporary reminder that grass resents such efforts. In the midst of the light green sea a clay path has been cut out and gives a clue as to the rules of the game to be played.
Red clay is cut into the grass to create a path which the bases are in. The clay tastes gritty and dirty. It gets everywhere. Its on pants, shoes, socks, hats, shirts, arms and faces. It sticks to sweat to make a dirt paste and hates parting with any cloth material. It gets kicked in the air, taken by the wind into eyes, mouths and noses. It starts at home plate and makes a straight line to first base, ninety feet away. It curves left, a wide curve, to second base and yet another wide curve towards third. At third the clay narrows on its path to home to only a sliver of its former self. At home the clay opens creating two batters boxes and a catchers box. The red clay is packed hard and groomed constantly. It contains no rocks larger than a pebble giving it the texture of sandpaper. Like the grass, this clay will stain, cut and bruise all who slide against it. In the middle of this clay and grass sits a hill above all else on the field.
The pitchers mound, a red circle in the middle of the infield is precisely sixty feet and six inches away from home plate. This hill is the smoothest and hardest of the clay. It is groomed to perfection leaving nothing out of place. It chooses to intimidate through stature and importance. It is the center of the game, where the ball starts. On this dirt mound sits a piece of plastic called the rubber. One foot is required to touch this piece of plastic to begin the game. It is a very important piece of plastic. The white of the rubber, all pitted from metal cleats and wear, glows against the red of the clay. It stands out showing off its importance to the game. Sixty feet and six inches away stands more glowing white, more signs of importance.
Home plate is where runs are scored, pitches judged and the end result of all offensive efforts. Games are won here and games are lost here. Its white and shaped like an upside down house. Its a permanent white glow surrounded by the red of the clay. The batters boxes are on each side and have a manicured look to them. Behind home sits more grass, more light green. Rising out of the light green and separating the field from the stands is the back stop. Blue painted wood on the bottom with a thirty foot high chain link fence protects the spectators from flying projectiles. It brings comfort and safety to the crowd, allowing them to watch with piece of mind. Along each side of the back stop are big brick rectangles.
These structures of brick are the dugouts. Twenty feet off the third and first baselines, they are protected in front by a chain link fence with one way in and out. A wood bench, painted blue, runs the length of the dugout. The dugout smells of dirt, of sweat, of leather, of determination, of grass and of dirt. Its an odd smell, one only found here, and very pungent. The ground is concrete with a layer of dirt atop it. The concrete hurts, it hurts feet and is all the more pronounced in contrast to the softness of the grass. This field is dormant now but as is the saying If you build it, they will come.
The field will soon come to life with sounds and movement and action. The smells of grass will mix with that of sweat, blood and leather. Umpires will yell, coaches will scream, balls will pop and whiz, bats will crack. The crowd will cheer for victory and be silent in defeat. Young men will talk and yell in the language of the game. The field will become alive and become destroyed. It will look little like its former self. The field will be plagued with divots, slide marks, cleat tracks, sunflower seeds and chalk. The crowd will die, the grass will be the only smell left and the field will be rebuilt. The field looks satisfied, happy and tired, willing to sleep until the next great battle.
To step on this field is to forget everything except the game of baseball. There are no problems or worries on this red and green diamond. This field is groomed and taken care of by the young men who play on it and it is immaculate. On this field nothing matters except winning and the mind becomes focused on this task. It gives freedom to those who play allowing for one to forget life, even if for only a couple hours. The field is a place of bloodshed, determination and hard work. This great sea of green and red will take your heart; I know it still has mine.
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Tuesday, 01 August 2006, 9:31 AM
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