An Empty Field


Laying about were several items, all apparently used at one point. It’s hard to tell how long ago that may have been, but the sun-faded colors of the batting helmet and amount of dirt around the base of the ball indicate it’s been longer than you’d hope.

The city had long ago put up a chain link fence around the field because of insurance concerns. Here sat an empty and unused place of past joy, and though there was still a small number of individuals who’d ask to rent it from time to time for nostalgic purposes, the cost to maintain it far exceed that to just close it.

You can still see the dirt infield, though plenty of grass and weeds have found their way here. Before too long there may only be an outline. Before too long after that, all identity of what this place used to be will be masked by a non-manicured green covering.

Some kids had cut a hole in the chain link. Their dad’s told them about the game, and after poking around on the Internet they thought they’d try it out. This used to be their country’s past time after all. Before too long, the police had arrived and the children scattered. The fence was patched, signs threatening prosecution were posted and the grounds haven’t been touched by a cleat since.

That was nine years ago. It’ll be a decade next week, actually. Nearly three decades since the last big league stadium was converted or torn down to make room for other public uses. No one can really put a finger on what caused all this. Labor peace was at an all-time high. Everyone was making money. It’s just, well, people stopped showing up. Then, the fading began.

There were things sexier than a baseball diamond that had caught their attention, I guess. New things. More interesting things. Yes, I agree. How is that possible? And now, here is this field. This perfect, amazing field. And thousands more like it across this land. All empty. All demolished. All covered. All re-purposed.

The stories of Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente, Rickey Henderson and Albert Pujols? They’re still found in textbooks and museums. No longer passed verbally from a grandfather to his grandson, though. No longer a conversation at the water cooler, the sports bar or barber shop. It’s like the once grand stature of Rome. Not forgotten, but barely thought of by many now.

Sometimes, this is my fear when the Mariners don’t play. A sick and twisted movie played out in my mind. Tonight, the Mariners don’t play for the last time during the 2011 season. Then, they take a longer break but will resume play again in April.