#15. Pick a minor league baseball team and follow its fortunes through the newspaper or on the Internet

IDEA #15.  Pick a minor league baseball team and follow its fortunes through the newspaper or on the Internet. The Toledo Mud Hens might be an entertaining team to start with; they really are called that. You can also listen to streaming netcasts of the minor league games of many teams—check one out. And take this to the next level by learning to keep a baseball scorecard as you listen.

There is perhaps no activity in the American experience of sport more quintessential than following a baseball team. Baseball was the first team sport to be associated with a particular locale, and our home teams continue in some ways to define us—just ask anyone from Boston.

Before there was television, before the major leagues expanded coast to coast, and before the idea of large and small markets developed, Americans were passionate followers of minor league baseball. The minor leagues still thrive, in their way, in many cases showcased by new or refurbished “jewel box” stadiums and their games enhanced by inter-inning shows and promotion nights.

Even if the youngster lives in a major market city or cares nothing at all for baseball, immersing him or herself in the world of a minor league team can be an unrivaled experience in classic Americana. A look through the sports pages or an Internet search will disclose the standings of teams in all kinds of leagues at many levels—single-A and triple-A being the most common—and provide a wealth of small town and small city teams from which to choose one to be followed.

Even the most minor of leagues and teams have websites, and so during the summer season it is an easy matter to follow the fortunes of almost any team. Moreover, local radio stations may carry at least the team’s home games (and stream these over the station’s website), or there may be a live-text play-by-play broadcast over the Internet. (Baseball via radio or text feed, incidentally, recapitulates the fan experience of the Thirties and Forties, the Golden Age when no other sport so captured the American imagination—even though most fans had to depend on radio or newspapers for updates.)

Learning to keep a baseball scorebook is a subtle and complex art requiring attentiveness, knowledge of a number of complicated concepts, and a keen desire to recreate human experience in numbers, letters, and symbols. A knowledgeable fan looking at a thorough scorebook can practically visualize an entire game.

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