It's that time of year when those of us who have been waiting since October are gearing up, hoping for an exciting year of baseball.
Who's my team? It is and always has been, the Cleveland Indians. I also like the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
I'm old enough to have been one of the kids playing backyard ball. I had the biggest backyard in the neighborhood so games were played at my house.
Kids today typically don't know what backyard ball is because at about age 3, they're introduced to baseball on a tee, played on a peewee ball field. They may be getting skill, but they're missing out on fun.
Back in the day, everybody chose the name of their favorite player and we all had delusions of grandeur that, given the chance, we'd be as good as they were - yes, even the girls.
I always picked Rocky Colavito and imagined I could hit just like him. Who knew that I would one day marry a man whose all-time favorite player was, and still is, The Rock. It seems like deja vu.
Dan's fascination with Rocky was so major league that for his 50th birthday, I took him to the Tribe's 100th birthday celebration. My hope was that he'd get to meet up with his childhood hero.
More players from our past than current team members populated the concourse. They seemed both surprised and glad to be remembered. Dan was like a kid in a candy store, getting autographs and chatting with each one while I snapped pictures.
Then, there he was, the great Rocky Colavito, sitting at a table, talking, signing autographs. Dan's approach was a bit shy. He finally sat down next to Rocky and had the best 20 minutes of his baseball-loving life! It was so fun to watch them that I shot at least two rolls of film. Dan was totally in awe of his hero; this meeting was something he'll never forget!
Truth be told, I'd never been to a professional game until Dan took me to the old Cleveland Stadium, where the price of a field box seat was just $4. What a difference from today where purchasing an Indians' game ticket is a high stakes transaction. If you pick a Detroit game, a bleacher seat will cost you $12; that same seat during a Yankees game will cost you $24.50. It's called Premium Seating, and you pay the premium.
Of course they have to do something to pay players exorbitant salaries. Unfortunately, putting the burden on the fans has been a big factor in diminishing the love-affair this country used to have with baseball. While we love our Indians, watching from home is most often how we see them.
Fortunately for us, getting our dose of live baseball is fulfilled regularly by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. When we want an evening at the ballpark we only have to drive a few minutes to Eastwood Field, where we see a good game, are entertained between innings, have a chance to catch foul balls, and even eat a hotdog or two. If we pick the right night, we're treated to a great fireworks display to top it all off.
We're always excited to see the young players in their professional uniforms for the first time. With hopes high of one day making it to the big leagues they play hard and strong. They're happy to be there, to be getting what may be their big chance.
We remember watching C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Ryan Drese on that field and being thrilled by their skill and enthusiasm for the game. All of them made it into the ranks of the Tribe. That was a great year.
Every season has the same potential and we can't help look at each new crop of players and wonder if they are destined to become the next Rocky Colavito or C.C. Sabathia or Victor Martinez? It they do, it just might be deja vu.
Jagunic is a resident of Cortland. Email her at tribtoday.com