|Baseball at Cooper's Oval|
|Quincey Lattimore, a young prospect from North Carolina, safe at home|
|"...until they think warm days shall never cease"|
|Jamie McOwen from Miami Florida, his eyes on the prize|
There, for $12, you can sit behind homeplate and watch every pitch, something only the very rich get to do back in the US of A. With the backing of local sponsors, Major League Baseball, and the Australian Baseball Academy, money has been spent, and the popularity is growing--several thousand watched a recent game at the oval, to cheer our local team, the Adelaide "Bite" (geddit?).
|Okay, maybe the worst team name ever|
|Field of Dreams|
Once this game gets hold of you, it does not let go. It holds a special place in my memory, of course, and not because I ever any good as a player. It's been heartening, for example, to hear kids from the local little leagues at the oval, swapping a Manny Ramirez for a Greg Youkilis baseball card, or talking about how the Dodgers look good for next year. Obviously, it has colonised them good, and visions of a big-money contract in the "states" no doubt dance on the horizon of their dreams. A few Aussies have had good careers in "the bigs"--Gary Nilsson, Grahame Lloyd, to name a few, and hopefully this made-up league can make that happen for a few more.
But in the end, and not to invoke Field of Dreams too much, it is about a game that absorbs your total attention for three hours every day, is played by the young and free in what on these long evenings seems like an endless summer, full of warmth and promise. It's rhythm and routine turns the reality that even the best hitters don't make it 'home' seven out of ten times on average, into a daily lesson in stoicism and persistence--keeping at it, having another go, despite these odds.
At these games, in the company of loved ones, we are all of us--Yanks, Australians, Dutchmen, Koreans-- for a few hours of a summer evening, truly 'safe at home'.