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Boys of summer, though it's still winter

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Column by Jim Clark

Fishing is not my favorite activity … actually, I’ve only been fishing once in my life, as a boy, caught some little fish up at Greenwood Lake, New York, watched him squirm, told my father to put him back in the water so he wouldn’t suffer, and never touched a rod and reel again.
But I once had a fisherman describe the feeling the first time he went out in season, in the early morning on a peaceful lake, with nothing to concentrate on, except what he was doing. He said it was pure relaxation.
I had that feeling last week. It came on Monday evening when the New York Mets’ Dillon Gee threw the first pitch of the spring training season.
Baseball is back. All is right with the world. I leaned back in my recliner, a glass of iced tea (decaf) on the table by my side, and it felt so right.
As you may gather, I’m a baseball nut. Unlike a lot of baseball fans, I am just as comfortable watching a Little League game (I used to coach) as a Major League game. I’ve been to Williamsport, to Little League’s World Series, and I’ve been to numerous Major League games.
That’s all great, but I am a diehard Mets fan. They started playing 50 years ago, in the 1962 season, and last year they looked as if they hadn’t learned much in those 50 years.
They were, however, missing their ace pitcher last season, Johan Santana, who threw two scoreless innings in the second game of the spring last week, leading to wild speculation about the chances this year. Mets fans are used to the saying, “Wait ‘til next year!”
I don’t care. I just enjoy sitting back, rooting for my team, from the comfort of my living room.
My wife missed this spring opener because she is out of town. It has taken more than 48 years together, but I’m finally getting her converted … a little. She can recognize Jose Reyes (now a Marlin) and David Wright. She knows the names of some of the others, including Santana. I even coerced her, one year, to name our new cat “Mookie,” after Mookie Wilson, who was a star fielder and later a first base coach for the Mets.
My favorite baseball movie is “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones.
There are a couple of lines in that movie that always stick with me. One is uttered by Costner, as he looks over the field he has built, and says, “It’s perfect.”
The other is the dialogue by Jones, trying to talk Costner out of selling his farm. He describes the sport this way: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”
That, in a nutshell, is why I like baseball. That’s why every year, about this time, I get that relaxed, contented feeling.
All of you can have your NBA playoffs and Stanley Cup playoffs. March Madness ends about the time the regular baseball season starts. I’ll take the baseball season over all of those other sports.
So if you need to contact me after April 1, consult the baseball schedule first and see what time the Mets are playing. If you call during those hours, you’ll probably have to leave a message. But don’t worry. I’ll get back to you … probably sometime in October.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.