Is there anything more lonely than a ballpark in winter? The echoes of the fans have been long silent. Even the ghosts of past glories are hiding, waiting for the spring.
From spring through fall, even an empty ballpark seems alive. There is an energy that you can feel as you walk the track. Last night’s disappointment or the hope of this afternoon’s contest, it is a palpable feeling; a presence.
During the season, a ballpark is rarely silent. Even on away days, there is activity. First thing in the morning or late at night, the sounds of the surrounding city come in and travel around.
Not so in winter. In winter, whether the field is covered with tarps or blankets of snow, the city does not enter there. The city knows the ballpark is sleeping. While there may be a few souls keeping watch inside, there is nothing in there the city wants to see. Whether Boston or Cleveland, Detroit or Chicago, you might as well be standing in a high mountain ravine. The wind whistles. The walls close in on you along with the cold, and you look up at only a piece of the sky. North or south, a winter ballpark defines “empty.”
Football season allows us to ignore these abandoned ballparks. The football stadiums take our attention; so much activity; so much energy. It is only a brief reprieve. All too soon, football ends, and we are forced to deal with the winter ballpark again.
For the next three months, we can only wait for life to return to these giants. Slowly at first, and then with increasing urgency, the parks come back to life. With an affirmation of life like a newborn baby, the first week of April finally arrives, and all is well again.
The first writer who compared a ballpark to a cathedral must surely have been there in winter. Being alone inside a space so vast, it is hard not to believe there is a higher power that controls it all; or, at least looks down and sees that we are generally doing about the best we can.