Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Off-Season Pastimes: Safe at Home

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." (Rogers Hornsby)

What can the avid college baseball fan do in the off-season to stave off the dreaded baseball-deprivation blues?

Read a Baseball Book: Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic, by Alyssa Milano

Yes, THAT Alyssa Milano. I've even provided a photo of her here, for informational purposes only.

I've been pulling new baseball books of the shelves at the Columbia Public Library over the last few weeks, in an effort to stave off those dreaded Off-Season Blues. When I saw this one I was, shall we say, doubtful that it would provide the same sort of baseball fix as previous book, Catcher (see my review).

And I was right. Milano's book is nothing at all like Catcher. But it's a good book on its own terms, and a fairly serious book on baseball (Joe Torre wrote the foreword).

The TV actress tells a classic father-and-son baseball story, only this time it's father-and-daughter. Growing up in New York with a father still pining for the Brooklyn Dodgers, she was raised to be a rabid fan. After her family moved to Los Angeles for the sake of her acting career, they rediscovered the Dodgers of her father's youth and have taken their fandom to new levels.

All that is to say she is a genuine fan of the game, not just a celebrity trying to draw attention to herself by making a real-person connection with people.

I will admit I did not read the entire book word-for-word cover-to-cover. Some of it would be more interesting to readers who are more into celebrity stuff or for female readers.

My wife took a look at the book and found the perspective from a female fan's point of view to be interesting. There's an entire chapter on baseball fashion, which is not surprising since Milano has her own line of officially licensed sports clothing designed specifically for the serious female fan (no pink).

Her thoughts on the trials and travails of professional ballplayers in the constant glare of the celebrity spotlight are unique, as described from a perspective square in the middle of that same tabloid glare. She actually helped me to understand more of what it must be like to have every move you make plastered on the front pages.

I could do without the section on ballplayers she has dated and some of the other celebrity-chick stuff, but I do give the book a thumbs up as a worthwhile read (or skim), especially for female fans - or for you guys who will be interested in the glossy photo pages in the middle of the book.

And everyone who grew up going to games with their dad - or with their own children - will connect with her story of what she calls the "generational gift" of baseball.
A father and daughter found common ground that day. And even now, baseball connects us. Despite the life experience and time that could have come between us as I grew up and became a woman, despite sometimes not having anything to say, we can always talk about baseball.

On that day back in the early 1980s, baseball and the Dodgers gave me new ways to connect with my father. It wasn’t the same as watching the Yankees back in our living room in Staten Island, but it was as close as we were going to get. It was something that we shared as a father and a daughter, something that tied us to home, like the pastina I tried to make, only better because you can’t overcook baseball and make it inedible.
Milano, by the way, also has a regular blog about baseball (and about her clothing line) called touch 'em all.

Previous Off-Season Pastimes suggestions:
• Watch a baseball movie: Sugar

• Read a baseball book: Catcher

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