A Real Survivor Story: Baseball's Enduring Popularity

John SimsCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2009

"Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young."
—Roger Angell

Spring has arrived once again, and with it comes the anticipation of the upcoming Major League Baseball season, the 140th season in history. As with every new season comes the expectations, not only of player but of team, that this is their year to succeed.

As I thought about the game, and what it means to me, I tried to understand the appeal of baseball in this modern era of sports. 

In the truest sense of the term, baseball is a survivor. Consider the history of scandals that has rocked the very foundation of baseball, and the previous statement rings even more true. From the Black Sox scandal of 1919, Pete Rose's lifetime ban for betting, to the more recent steroids scandal, baseball has been through more tough times than the other professional sports combined.

Add to that the rise in popularity of MMA and UFC, especially with the all-important "younger" crowd, and the NFL's dominance as "America's Sport," and it's a wonder baseball hasn't completely folded.

But it hasn't...and it won't. And I'll tell you why.

No other sport—not football, not basketball, not hockey—brings together family like baseball. From father to son, mother to daughter, uncle to nephew, grandparent to grandchild, baseball is generation gap eliminated.

It's fathers taking their kids to their first game, telling stories of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke, of Babe Ruth's called shot, of poor Bill Buckner and Joe Carter's home run, all while eating a hot dog and pretzel under a clear blue sky. But baseball's attraction is much more than that. 

It's the smell of the grass, the crack of the bat, the infield dirt, and the great fielding play. Baseball allows men to be boys, and family to be friends. And it allows fathers (and mothers) to reconnect with their past, and loved ones lost, through the magic that baseball provides.

See, the game of baseball is much more than a game...it still is "America's Pastime" so long as there's a family sitting out in the bleachers under the hot sun, sharing stories, having a laugh, and enjoying a little quality time together.