By: Michael Shaffer
For some, baseball is simply just a game, a sport. But for me, it’s more than that. To me, it’s an experience, an experience I can share with others. Whether it’s family, friends, or even people I’ve never met before, baseball is something that brings us all together to celebrate what has been dubbed “America’s Pastime.” Since I was a kid, baseball has been something that my dad and I have shared, going to both major and minor league games to see our favorite players, participating in Fantasy Baseball, and collecting baseball cards and autographs. I remember when my dad took me to my first game in 2000 to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play, and I immediately became a fan, much to my dad’s chagrin (he is a Yankees fan).
In 2009, I attended my first minor league baseball game at Sam Lynn Ballpark, home of the Bakersfield Blaze, my hometown team. This is where my dad and I met Buster Posey, and even got his autograph, which catapulted us into a whole new realm of baseball, life in the minors. Since that whole new experience, we became hooked and have been going to minor league games all over California, and even Arizona for the Arizona Fall League. Over the years, we’ve met some incredible baseball players that have gone on to be All-Stars, MVPs and Rookie of the Year winners. Some names include Bryce Harper, Madison Bumgarner, Jose Altuve, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant. Meeting these players and tracking their progress from the minors to the majors has been an awesome hobby for us, leaving wonderful memories to look back on and talk about later on. We’ve even made some new friends, people we can talk about baseball with and who know all about the minor leagues as well.
Going to these games, and meeting these players and people made me realize that this is something I would like to be a part of for life, and inspired me to pursue a career of my own in sports. It has become my goal to acquire a job involving minor league baseball, earning my Bachelor’s in Sports Management this last winter. So when I’m asked the question of what baseball means to me, it’s more than a game to me, it’s an experience and lifestyle you can share with others. It’s a sport that brings people together to create a culture of its own, a culture that truly signifies the title of “America’s Pastime.”