Playing baseball in cold weather is, from my limited viewpoint, probably the most miserable experience one can have in the athletic world. I say my viewpoint is limited because, as a soccer player from age 6 on up, I never competed in organized football, so I don't know what it's like to stand on the sidelines, waiting to get into a freezing cold December game. I imagine that isn't much fun, but, as football is a fall-to-winter sport, the athletes taking part are nearing the end of their season by the time they have deal with numb fingertips and toes. Football players have had weeks, or months, to build their defenses and toughen up before it gets cold. Baseball players, on the other hand, have to head out at the beginning of their campaigns and, when Mother Nature is being capricious like she has these past few weeks, deal with weather that is decidedly un-baseball (please note that everything I've said and will say in this column applies to softball as well).
Standing in the lobby of The Aegis office building on Monday afternoon, waiting for the All-Harford swimming and boys basketball selections to arrive and have their pictures taken, I recounted to photo editor Matt Button, who later would head to Patterson Mill to shoot a softball game in just-above-freezing temperature, my very vivid memories of early-season contests I played as part of the Perryville Little League. The Senior League baseball field at Perryville Park is placed about 50 yards from the waterfront, right around where the Susquehanna River ends and the Chesapeake Bay begins. I'm not sure of the meteorological term for the effect of water on air temperature, but the real-life application of it can be felt at that baseball diamond on a chilly day. I remember getting into my dad's truck before a game, confident that it wasn't going to be so bad at the park, only to be met by a blast of wind off the bay when I stepped out of the passenger compartment. It was just not a pleasant place to play if the weather wasn't really nice (I'd hate to bash any Little League operation, because I know everyone involved works hard, but that field wasn't very good even when the weather was perfect. I hope they've since found a better place to hold games). Once, during one of those cold, windy games, after standing at second base for what seemed like an hour, I screamed at my team's pitcher, who had walked three hitters in a row, "just let them hit the ball!"
So, for the baseball and softball players who competed on Monday when it was below 40 degrees, and who were slated to play on Thursday when it was just as cold, I can sympathize. Baseball and softball, though they start in the spring, are summer sports at heart. They are not meant to be suffered through in cold, but enjoyed in the sun. I only speak for myself, but I'd rather come home and use the shower to wash off dirt and sweat than for warming myself up.
When the weather does get better, next week hopefully, since I have Orioles opening day tickets, I'm looking forward to some real battles in the softball and baseball Chesapeake (upper) Divisions. North Harford started things off perfectly on Monday in both sports, with the softball team beating C. Milton Wright by one run, and the baseball team also winning, 6-0, over CMW. If that's a harbinger for things to come, I'm pumped to see how the season shakes out.
And let's have some proper spring weather, please.