I have many friends who are fanatical about baseball. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal. While they rave about the thrilling “crack of the bat,” I don’t believe listening to a nocturnal insectivore tell jokes could be anyone’s idea of a swell time. They whine about the smell of the turf and the loud belching of the fat drunk guy behind you. If I wanted to revel in the scent of dirt and drunken bodily functions, I’d take a time machine back to the summers that I spent on Uncle Eddie’s farm when I was a kid.
I have a complicated relationship with baseball. It’s complicated the same way my relationship with my ex was complicated. Namely, if I have anything else to do, I will do that instead of watching baseball. If I’m bored enough, I will pay mild attention and maybe fuck it, if I’ve eaten enough oysters.
Now, before you baseball lovers get your vaginas bent out of shape, let me assure you that I don’t think baseball is the lamest game ever invented. That honor goes to lacrosse. I understand there are many people who enjoy it and for that reason I will say, “Get a life!” No, seriously, I’m just joshin’ you. Heh! I’ll take it all back if you’ll put down the Louisville Slugger. Deal? Ow!
Now that we have that settled, I will say what I actually meant to say in the first place. Ahem. Because I understand there are many people who enjoy this sport, I have decided to devote this column to explaining the history of baseball. I’ve done extensive research on this subject and have come to the conclusion that it would have been a much better use of my time to construct a scale model of the Arc de Triomphe out of pinecones. However, since I’ve already done the research, I might as well pass my findings along to you.
Once there were twin brothers, Ralph and Ernie Base. The Base brothers were ambitious and, because they knew that Mom and Pop were pulling for them, wanted to become a success so their parents would be proud.
“Not a chance, you fucking losers!” their parents said.
Undeterred, Ralph and Ernie decided to become inventors. Their first contraption, invented in 1849, was a water-purifier that worked wonderfully well. They crated it up and took the machine to California, where the Gold Rush was in full swing. Once there, they began putting their invention to work, removing all that pesky gold from the streams so the water would once again be safe to drink.
Shockingly, the Base brothers soon found themselves in a home for the criminally insane. Since there was nothing to do except drool and play with straws, the brothers became increasingly bored.
One day, Ralph sat at breakfast, staring at his orange and wondering how his life could have taken such a drastic turn for the worse.
“It’s because you’re stupid,” Ernie said, reading Ralph’s thoughts.
“Shut up,” Ralph thought.
“Okay,” Ernie said.
Irritated, Ralph threw the orange at his brother, who caught it expertly.
“You’re out!” Ernie yelled.
Ralph looked at him strangely. “What did you say?” he asked. “What do you mean, ‘You’re out?’”
Ernie looked confused. “I’m not sure what came over me,” he said. “It just sort of pooped out.”
“Popped out,” Ralph corrected, rolling his eyes.
“The correct expression is ‘popped’ out.” Ralph replaced his eyes, which had obediently rolled back to him. “Gimme back that orange.”
Ernie threw the fruit and Ralph caught it easily. A thrill passed through him, signifying that he had either made a great discovery or his bedpan needed changing. Either way, it was a lot more exciting than what had been taking place thus far.
“We’ve made a great discovery!” he announced.
Ernie glanced over at him. “Sweet!” he said and went back to playing with his drool.
“No, no! I’m serious!” Ralph sat up straight in bed and gazed at Ernie in wonder. “You threw a small, spherical object at me and I caught it! We’re geniuses!”
Over the next few days, the Base brothers busied themselves working out the details of their new game. At first, they were going to have five starting players, who would bounce the spherical object on the ground and then try to throw it into a round metal rim, which would be called a “basket.” But they soon realized how ridiculous this sounded and scrapped the idea.
“Maybe we are going crazy,” Ralph thought.
“Yeah,” Ernie agreed. “We’re bonkers.”
Gradually, their plans took shape and soon they had devised an entire game, complete with rules and everything. The hardest part was naming the game. Ernie insisted it be called “ernieball,” but Ralph felt that was dumb, preferring instead to call it “ball-ball.” Finally, they reached a compromise wherein they named the game “baseball.”
“I’m seein’ national pastime in our future,” Ralph said, always the optimist.
And that, my friends, is a short history of baseball. Perhaps this season will mean more to you die-hard fans now that you know how and where the game truly evolved: by two crazies in a nuthouse.
Craig A. Hart writes shit. Sometimes it’s less shitty. Sometimes he thinks it might be good shit. He is the stay-at-home father of twin boys, has served as editor-in-chief for The Rusty Nail literary magazine and as manager for Sweatshoppe Media. He is the host of the Raw Writing Podcast. He lives in Iowa City with his wife, sons, and two cats. You can visit his personal website at: craigahart.com.