The month was March, the year, 2020, and I was preparing to fly to Fort Myers for MLB Spring Training, an event I’d been looking forward to since I returned home from last year’s Spring Training. COVID-19 was looming in the back of the collective American consciousness, rapidly becoming more and more threatening. However, we wore no masks, we were under no travel bans, and spring baseball was in full swing.
March 12th, school was cancelled at Visitation as was my plan to fly to Florida. Uncertainty surrounding flight cancellations and complications led us to drive to Florida, putting us in the driver’s seat of our own plans. I braced myself for a road trip with my dad all the way to western Florida. I packed my bags and hoped for the best.
What I discovered along the way was shocking, disappointing, inspiring, and every mixed emotion in between. But most of all, I was enlightened by the experiences the trip brought me.
Baseball is a game. But that game is also a vehicle that drives us, literally and figuratively, to find commonalities across our vast nation. In our community of enthusiasts, it may feel like a Twins fan and a Cleveland fan have nothing in common. But at the end of the day, they both hate the Yankees, and they are people who are connected by our national pastime, the thread that strings every corner of America together. While I originally set out to find some of baseball’s most historic and prestigious sights, I found along the way people who were just like me, leading lives just as impactful as mine, working to further their communities whether by educating, entertaining, or providing high quality Derby hats.
The United States is not perfect. We are not a perfect people. But the beautiful thing about baseball is that it is not an individual sport. It relies on teamwork; without a good pitcher on your side, every home run becomes meaningless and vice versa. And I believe that if we can put our differences aside for three hours to support our favorite teams, then there is hope for this nation that seems so divided. The amount of work that we as Americans have ahead of us is not insignificant and will take many decades, but hey, that’s what extra innings are for.