Many fans root for a specific baseball team because of links to their own childhood days. This is true for members of my family, a number of long-time friends and for me. The Phillies meant the world to us when we were young.
The word young can become subjective as we age. For some, young means being a child. Whenever I see a dad playing catch with his son, as mine did with me so many Sunday's ago, I'm reminded about the importance of a strong father.
For others, young means those individuals who are simply younger than themselves. Then, there are people who consider time to be a fluid spot that isn't fixed by chronological reality.
In the near future I'll be going to a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia with a cousin and two school friends.
My cousin Patrick is one of the people who taught me how to play baseball when we were young. He also introduced me to the logic within the game.
Good fortune allowed Mike to join my elementary school class in the late 1970s. We gained another life-long friend when junior high school began. Bill has always represented good luck because we got to know him in the fall of 1980. The three of us enjoyed many legendary backyard wiffle ball games back when bikes were our method of Eco-friendly transportation.
One interesting current connection between these three men is that each of them have sons. Their boys are being taught about baseball and about life by solid men. They and some other people who I came to know along the way, served as the brothers that I never had during certain portions (innings) of my own life.
Little League games and baseball card collecting eventually transitioned to APBA and Strat-O-Matic contests as our young minds expanded. It seemed to take forever, but eventually we were also old enough to drive. So, those treks to Veterans Stadium represented a further progression in our lives.
Naturally, it hasn't been possible for all of us to remain connected as we once were. But, the vividly maintained memories about each of these important people are still seen fully today. Hopes for future baseball glory have also rightfully been placed with the young people who are now at the center of everyone's lives.
We all still enjoy watching the Phillies on television, listening to their games on the radio and analyzing box scores in newspapers. Not being totally old school, we've also allowed our passion for the game to include digital devices, online sources, satellite radio and interactive video games.
Tug McGraw's last pitch against the Kansas City Royals in 1980 delivered a reward to everyone who caught it. Brad Lidge perfectly mirrored the moment 28 years later against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Rooting for Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard, Larry Bowa, Jimmy Rollins, Pete Rose, Chase Utley, Steve Carlton, Cole Hamels or whoever our future stars will be allows us to see yesterday, today and tomorrow simultaneously.
The reunions that we have aren't actually about the games that we see. We gather, like all groups of people do at various events, simply to be together. Baseball is the backdrop, just as it always has been.
Many of the best people in life have taught me that following this game is one way to remain young. Baseball is the backdrop and so it will always be.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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