The smell of grass. I always remember baseball when I smell that fresh cut summer grass. Living in Oregon meant a lot of rain and clouds in the winter, so once we smelled that fresh cut grass smell we knew spring was here. That meant it was time for baseball. But not the majors or even the minors. It was time for backyard baseball. We used a foam baseball and whatever wooden object we could use for a bat. The bases were anything that would stay put on the well manicured lawn. It wasn't the nicest baseball field you've ever seen, but it was our field. We would find anyone in the area who was available to come play. Some games had 3 people, others had 15-20. And that's how we would spend the rest of the afternoon and evening until we couldn't see the ball anymore. Parents would holler at us to come home for dinner and we would almost always oblige unless the game was close. And then we'd be back the next day to do it again.
But time passes and soon the small foam ball isn't enough for growing boys. We tried expanding our game to a real bat and ball but ended up breaking a neighbor's window, (doesn't this happen to everyone playing backyard baseball?), which ended our more mature version of the game. Sadly, soon after we realized that we had outgrown backyard baseball. To go back to the foam ball was to ignore our new found maturity. To continue with a real ball would only cause more problems in the neighborhood. We moved on to other sports in the neighborhood and would go down to the school and play a bit, but it just was never the same. We still had fun, but the baseball we had in that backyard for years was something special that couldn't be replicated.
We get so caught up with multi-million dollar contracts and endorsement deals that we forget that baseball is more than anything an American tradition for ordinary people. And for us, that was our backyard baseball game. Times change but the memories of those spring and summer days will always remain. Especially when I smell that fresh cut grass. It always takes me back to those days. That is the true meaning of America's Pastime.