We’re certainly aware that it’s fashionable these days to proclaim baseball an irrelevant and dying sport, with its staid traditions and constant stories of connecting parents, grandparents, and children.
That, we will argue, is the strength it has left and to prove it, we point today to Jim Walsh’s excellent story in Southwest Journal about Jodi Ayres and her baseball card collection at Lowbrow bar and restaurant in Kingfield.
The bartop of baseball cards was the idea of her father with whom she shared a suffering as a Minnesota Twins fan, according to Walsh.
He died in February.
You can always tell a real baseball fan: Sentences at this time of the year often start with “my father”.
“I think my dad fell in love with it again because I did, and it was a thing that we shared. He loved playing catch with [me], and I got really into collecting cards. I was a really quiet kid, and I think baseball lends itself to introspective kids, because there’s all the stats and the stories.
“He had one of those classic stories about how his mom threw away his baseball card collection when he went to college, so I never got any of his cards, which was totally brutal for me. But I had a great-uncle who gave me some of the old ones in the bar.”
There’s only one really valuable card in the collection, she says: a vintage Harmon Killebrew card.
She didn’t want to open a sports bar; she wanted a place where people could come and chat up neighbors. But baseball, she says, is meditative.
“It’s hard to feel bad about the world when you’re having a beer with some of baseball’s greatest ghosts,” Walsh writes.
“We pull our past with us — our brothers, our grandmothers, our aunts, our sons and daughters — as we hang on for one more season, one more game, one more chance to dream that salvation will come, if not in this life, then surely the next. Or the one after that,” I wrote in this space in 2016.
The world is in bad shape. Baseball returns on Thursday.
Just in time.
From the archive: There is no better sport than baseball (NewsCut)