Ecuador

For the love of the game

My first love, and my first heartbreak, was baseball. No doubt about it. The players´ strike of 1994 was the first blow. Curveballs, which came around 1999 for me, were the nail in the coffin.

Baseball is back. I still don´t give a rat about major league ball, but when I was in Botswana last fall, there was a group of guys that played across the street from my house. I also brought a book to Ecuador called Baseball Dynasties, about the greatest teams of all time. And here in Santa Isabel – in a country where Soccer is God – one small group of kids spend every single recess playing the Grand Old Game.

Well, sort of. There are five bases, rather than four. A pitch is only a ´ball´ if you don´t swing at it. Foul balls don´t exist, and a team gets to keep batting until every single one of its hitters has gotten out (or, in Spanish, been ´burned´) once.

I´ve been lucky enough to be invited to play a couple of times, though I always seem to get burned because of some crazy local rule that I don´t know. I also blew out my ankle again this afternoon chasing Johnny´s homerun (jonron) into the outfield (cow pasture). Whatever – I´ve got an ankle brace and will be back on the diamond tomorrow.

I love this game.

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