Column: The allure of baseball

By: Jared Sugerman, News Staff

After the men’s basketball team’s first-round NIT loss in Connecticut, I reflected on the end of my experience as an undergraduate supporter of our athletic program. Neither of the teams to which I have devoted the most time (men’s basketball and hockey) will play again before I graduate.

As I rode back to Boston from Storrs, Conn. it seemed unlikely that I would have another opportunity to watch the Huskies compete during my tenure as a Northeastern student.

Then, Sunday, March 20, I received a text message from a friend.

“Interested in nu baseball game today?”

I had attended only a few college baseball games in the past, and all of those had been played at Fenway Park as part of the annual Baseball Beanpot Tournament. It had not been the competition itself to which I was drawn, but the opportunity to watch the games from Fenway’s unattainable box seats.

Yet, on this day, his proposal seemed exceptionally tempting; the sun was shining, no professional baseball would be played in Boston until April 4, and I welcomed a distraction from what I assumed would be another Bruins loss.

We drove to Friedman Diamond and arrived just before the game began to find a crowd larger than we had expected. According to the Automated Scorebook, 184 people came to watch Bryant and Northeastern play each other. However, the methods of tabulation they employed did seem somewhat dubious; no tickets were issued, no hands were stamped, and no cards were swiped. A few employees of the athletic department moved toward the bleachers as the game progressed, removed from the majority of the crowd behind home plate and along the base lines. One cradled studying materials upon her lap.

We strolled, unfettered, toward the outfield wall. We chose not to run through it, as one outfielder so famously did in 2009. Instead, we climbed toward the outfield grandstand, shimmering in the early spring sunlight.

We positioned ourselves between the 20 and 30-yard markers, faded relics of a bygone era. To our right, a group of jocular fans tended to their hibachi, laden with various beef and pork products. The smoke wafted toward the infield, mingling with their repartee.

The atmosphere was convivial. The fans were generally friendly, and approval was given both for successful play and good effort. The reduced intensity and volume was a welcome respite from raucous Matthews Arena. As Bryant built its advantage, had it reduced, and strengthened it again, we made conversation, stretched out upon the sun-soaked steel benches, and leisurely watched the game that some say has been supplanted as our national pastime.

Baseball is a historic game, though, whose greatest players stand upon stacks of their well-documented statistics. It is, both literally and figuratively, a timeless game, and at Friedman Diamond, without in-game advertisements, music and most, importantly, clocks, it is restored to its most venerable state. If any time-keeping device had been on the premises (aside from the unavoidable cell phones), I happily failed to take note. There, in Brookline, a few hundred people gather to enjoy each other’s company, good weather and a lovable game.

– Jared Sugerman can be reached
at [email protected]

Leave a Reply