I became interested in baseball around 2006 (age 14) by accident basically. I was America obsessed. Loved Elvis and Michael Jackson, watched Seinfeld and Friends and longed to one day at least visit the States.
Then one day I was randomly gifted a baseball set. Nothing special. A Bat, ball and glove from JJB sports (RIP). Added to this was a ball with a logo alien to me. It transpired to be the famous New York Yankees logo. Intrigued, I went on the family computer, waited for dial up to connect, ageing a year in the process, and went about researching baseball and these Yankees. Armed with birthday money and wonder, I bought a book called Roads to Redemption : A guide to the Major Leagues by Craig W Thomas. This, while I know now with more knowledge, there are several inaccuracies and wrong statements in this book. But at the time it piqued my interest further. With my new found knowledge of baseball, I went seeking forums online to quench my thirst even further, and sought out more literature to become the most informed I could be on the subject.
I also during this time developed what can only be described as an ultimate baseball crush. The man? Derek Jeter. Also, during this time, I came across a movie called Rookie of the Year. This was about to change everything. After watching this, and falling in love with the quaint nature of the ball club portrayed, I decided to research the Chicago Cubs further. I bought two books, one centred around a curse of a Billy goat and another on the void of any success in almost a century. Of course, I had fallen into a trap. I became a die hard Cubs fan almost overnight. Somehow, I had started my journey with the Yankees, and transitioned from the sports most famous winners to it’s most infamous losers. Oh joy. The adoration for Jeter continued, but my heart now belonged on the North Side of Chicago.
The following years saw many a bleary eyed morning, staying up until 5am routinely during the Summer months, go to University, finish said University, join the military, fall in love, life stuff. However, the love for the game of baseball, has remained. Now, I write this, pondering as my journey has almost gone full circle. I finally have a trip to the States on the horizon.
The sport itself is seeing a spike in popularity in the United Kingdom, as seen by the gates of the London Series of 2019, and predicted sales of the 2020 series. The amount of UK baseball accounts on social media and online as a whole, along with the coverage of the sport, is night and day above what it once was when I was wetting my toes in the glorious summer of 2006. And to top it all, my beloved Cubs finally went all the way in 2016, prompting tears from yours truly. I write this as the final part of the circle. Derek Jeter, the man who held my hand, figuratively speaking, during the early stages and middle stages of my baseball journey, my ultimate sporting hero, my idol, has been elected to the Hall of Fame.
This feels like a chapter is over, and a new one is to begin. I am in the process of setting up my own team. I am finally set to see my Cubs live. I am also, as stated before, about to go to the States finally. I for one, am very excited for the future. Long may this journey continue.
Image courtesy of The Post Game