Steve Eighinger

It's almost that time of the year

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 23, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 24, 2019 8:40 am

It's always easy for me to tell when January is nearing an end. I don't even need to look at a calendar.

I start to get the fever -- baseball fever.

Just the other day I saw that one of the Major League Baseball teams opens spring training Feb. 11. Do you realize how close we are to that date? Be still, my beating heart.

Sure, I love football, basketball, auto racing and just about any other sport you might quiz me about. But baseball? For some reason, that always sport been special.

I loved baseball before girls.

Some of my fondest memories growing up were hitting wiffleball home runs and pretending I was Vic Davalillo, Max Alvis, Leon Wagner or any number of the other Cleveland Indians of my youth.

And I still cherish my baseball card collection.

When most kids my age in first and second grade were reading comic strips, I was devouring box scores.

When most of my buddies were watching cartoons, I was tuned in to the game of the week.

I reminisce like this every year at this time, and even more so when I come across some of my favorite baseball-related quotes. Such as:

º "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.

I always sympathized with the Rajah.

º "A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings." -- Earl Wilson.

There is no drama better than a baseball game.

º "I see great things in baseball. It's our game -- the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." -- Walt Whitman.

A little wordy, but so-o-o-o-o true.

º "The charm of baseball is that, dull as it may be on the field, it is endlessly fascinating as a rehash." -- the late, great former baseball columnist Jim Murray.

There's a lot of truth to Murray's account. I still remember a foul ball my dad dropped in 1961 during the second game of an Indians-Twins doubleheader.

º "If a horse can't eat it, I don't want to play on it." -- Dick Allen.

Arguably my all-time favorite player, Richie "Call me Dick" Allen and I have always felt the same about artificial turf.

And my favorite quote related to the greatest game will always be:

"You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four," 1970.

To this day, I know exactly how Jim Bouton felt.