athletes home is where his heart is

Home is where the heart is. If this is true then, my heart belongs to a special place. Not just any place, but a place where the chalk line connects the grass to the dirt, where three bases signify my safety, and a green fence is my brick wall. When I pull around the corner my view fist goes to the baseball field not the softball field, but that’s what makes it so unique and special in its own way. It’s sort of like a home, with a fence for a wall and trees for the roof. Different positions on the field, like first and third, are the rooms of the house. Each one is different and special in its own way.

At first glance, I know a game was played on this very field not too long ago. The chalk lines are worn and faded, the dirt is stirred, and a long lost batting glove is left behind. I make my way to the home dugout and take a seat on the bench. The dugout has a foul scent, a mixture of body odor and dirt. I open my bag and take out my cleats. After I put my cleats on, I look around and see that we didn’t do so well in picking up. There are paper cups surrounding the trashcan and scattered across the floor. When I start to walk around, my cleats scratch the pavement and make a nose as irritating as nails on a chalk board.

This noise seems to bother other people more than it bothers me. It’s almost as if I have become immune to the ear piercing noise. I then kick my bag under the bench and make my way to the field. As I take my first step onto the field I can feel the dirt grinding against my metal cleats with every step I take. If I listen closely I can actually hear it, like two pieces of sand paper rubbing against each other, fighting one another. I take a moment to stop and just look around. The chalk line that closes in the right hand batter’s box has completely disappeared. The chalk is now a mixture with the dirt.

Right in front of the pitcher’s mound there is an area of harder and darker dirt, left from dumping water. As I pick up a small hand full dirt, I see that it isn’t the only substance of Mother Nature that calls this place home. Rocks have been thrown into the mixture of what makes up the infield. Knowing that rocks can change the course of a hard hit grounder, I casually throw the small rocks against the dugout. I make my way to my place on the field, my room of the house, first base. I kneel down to get a closer look at it and can see that I have left my signature on the base.

Cuts and marks all around the edges where my right cleat touches the bag as my left must stretch the opposite way towards the oncoming ball. I look not only at the defensive player’s white bag, but also at the bright orange safety bag for the runners. The two bags have become one, united, white on the left and bright orange on the right. The runner’s bag has taken much more abuse than the white defensive player’s bag. Just by sight I think the bases are smooth, but when you get a closer look you realize they are not. Small bumps and ridges make up the top of the bag. They are formed in a shape that looks like a square, but with rounded edges.

Inside the square is smooth and level, only the outline of the shape has the bumps. I stand up and make my way to the unknown territory of the outfield as I leave behind my true place on the field. With just a glance I can tell the grass is in need of a cut. Each blade stretching above my ankles, making a jungle that tiny insects would fear and hike through for days. Small holes are hidden beneath the grass that if filled with water would make tiny ponds that would coincide with the jungle. I keep moving at a constant pace until I reach the fence in right field. I look up to see the score board.

I think back to times when I loved looking at this electronic score keeper and times when I hated it. The score board is turned off and silent. It’s not making its usual noise, a buzz, which you can only hear if you’re really close and quiet. I keep walking along the fence all around the edge. I stop at center to look onto the field. It looks different from this position. Here I can see everything on and off the field. I can see the bleachers where screaming fans sit, the concession stand where hungry fans go to fill their stomachs, and I can also see both dugouts where teams sit to cheer on their team.

I look down to see twigs and sticks all around me. The first thought that comes to my mind is there must be trees near. I then look up to prove my theory. When I look up I see many trees stretching up towards the sky and out over the fence. The trees act as a fence of their own incasing the fields from the outside world. They make up the roof of this house, protecting the players from what is up above. These trees form a safe place that is free of sun and rain. My final stop on the field is home plate, just like a trip around the bases.

When I make it to home plate I sit down and stare out into the field. Every little detail that I normally don’t take into account I can see. I look at the lines that were once perfectly chalked, but now are faded and worn out from runners racing down the line to beat the ball to the base. Not only have the base lines worn down but so has the batter’s box. The dirt is turned over and not perfectly drug like it is before a game. I can see the marks in the dirt around the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box left from the rake.

I’ve come to this field many times but I’m just now seeing the hole in the fence behind the plate. As I get up to leave I think how special this place is to me. I take one last look and see the field bare of other players. Every time I have been down on myself this one place can pick me it and make me feel better. It’s like it has some sort of special power that a best friend doesn’t. The field has always been there for me and I know it always will. Nothing is going anywhere, not the bases, the dugouts, the scoreboard, or even the tower trees that bring this place shade. This is my one true home.

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