How Nine Innings Changed My Life

While I am Girl At The Game, I’m not the only girl at the game, not even close! So I’m excited to start featuring some of my favorite fellow female fans, starting with my dear friend Molly Burkhardt…

There are many reasons to love baseball. One of my favorite aspects of the sport is how it brings people together. Baseball can provide a sense of community or family, and for me, it’s everything I love about the game.

I was introduced to the sport by my dad, a shared passion I hold onto even stronger as he gets older. My dad is responsible for me growing up a Red Sox fan, and for my appreciation of listening to ball games on the radio. I spent many summer days sailing with him, Joe Castiglione coming through the speaker to keep us in the loop even off-shore. I sat on my porch in the fall, swinging from a hanging chair with my dad grilling and Jerry Trupiano talking us through nine innings.

In high school, I chose to spend my afternoons and nights at friends’ and boyfriends’ summer league games. Sitting in the grass when the bleachers were too hot, sipping on lemonade and making sure to dodge rogue foul balls.

In college, baseball helped me find my voice as a writer after I took on the school newspaper’s weekly MLB column. My submissions started off reading like gamers, boring chunks of text full of statistics and recaps. As I got more comfortable with my writing, and expanded my baseball knowledge beyond the Red Sox, I learned how to find more interesting things to write about, and more importantly who I was as a writer.

Most recently, baseball has provided me with an escape from the stresses of life, something I could rely on day in and day out when nothing else felt stable. I always hear people complain about the length of baseball games. and how long the season can drag out. For me, the 162+ games give me comfort. No matter how hard a day or week was, I could count on watching at least one baseball game to take my mind off everything else.

After moving to New York City, baseball provided me with something I constantly struggled to find: a sense of community. Moving away on my own during a significantly difficult period of my life gave me its fair share of struggles. Making a home out of an unfamiliar place can leave you feeling alone, even if your new home is in one of the most populated places in the country. Baseball remained something I could count on, and something I could share as an experience with people near and far.

I can text my good friend (and creator of this website) who I met through baseball, to rant about a heartbreaking loss. After a summer night at Fenway, I often head to a local bar to meet up with people I’ve been introduced to as a result of the game. After the Red Sox took down the Yankees in the 2018 ALDS, I could turn to Twitter and join the rest of Red Sox fans in celebrating our team, despite being in the heart of enemy territory.

The sport has introduced me to some of the most generous, funny people, and some of the people I consider my best friends. It’s pulled me out of dark places and helped me forget about some dark thoughts if only for just nine innings. Baseball has given me a bond with my dad that I cherish now, and memories with him that I’ll forever be grateful for having.

We all have our reasons for becoming fans of the game, for staying up late on a school or work night to close out extra innings, for traveling to see our favorite team play at their home ballpark, or for spending half a paycheck on our team’s apparel. I have my dad to thank for introducing me to my passion, and the sport to thank for providing me with constant entertainment, inspiration, and above all, a community I feel like I belong to.

I’d love to hear your reason for becoming a fan, and how baseball has affected your life!

Molly works at MLB in New York and tweets passionately about the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants. Follow and connect with her @mollyburkhardt!

Photo: the author

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