Catcher Crash Davis would understand

Published 8:09 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Batter up!

Yes, it’s that time of year — and there’s a movie to prove it.

“It Happens Every Spring” is a 1949 baseball movie starring Ray Milland and Paul Douglas. Considering that Major League Baseball’s spring training is under way, it would behoove Turner Classic Movies to show that movie. I wouldn’t mind seeing “Bang the Drum Slowly,” “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” and “The Pride of the Yankees” sometime before MLB’s opening day. They’re all baseball movies — with messages beyond throw the ball, catch the ball and hit the ball.

I enjoy baseball more than any other sport because, to me, it’s a game filled with events that require strategies. To me, baseball is more of a chess match on grass (or artificial turf) than any other outdoor sport.

I love the sound the baseball makes as it hits the catcher’s mitt. I love that “crack” when the bat makes solid contact with the baseball. I love when the home-plate umpire rings up a batter with a called third strike and is animated while doing so. I love sitting in the stands behind home plate and commenting on the home-plate umpire’s eyesight.

Even at age 57, I still have hopes of catching a foul ball or home run ball while sitting in the stands while enjoying two hot dogs, a large diet Coke and nachos. If a ball should come my way, I’ll have to quickly put down whichever of those items is in my right hand at the time so I can catch the ball.

I don’t know what I would do with the ball, but I would like to catch one to find out what I would do with it. Perhaps I could trade it for two more hot dogs — with mustard, sauerkraut and onions.

I love those well-manicured fields with grass, not artificial turf. I love it when an outfielder makes a sliding catch and gets grass stains on what just seconds before was a clean, white uniform. I like when there’s a play at home plate, causing dust to fly and the runner and catcher getting covered with dirt. Depending on the team at bat, I may want the runner to be safe after running into the catcher (like Pete Rose did to Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game).

I like watching minor-league games in person. These players, for little money and long trips between games, give it their all because they are trying to make it to “the show” — the major leagues. Some of them may have inflated egos, but few, if any, of them have inflated salaries. Each player is chasing a dream.

More power to them, especially at the plate, as they chase their dreams.

No matter the level — T-ball, youth baseball, high-school baseball, college baseball, minor-league baseball and the major leagues — those baseball players and I have one thing in common. There are two words we love to hear when spring arrives.

“Play ball!”

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. In case you didn’t know, Bruce Radford, a former city manager for Washington, has a brief appearance in “Bull Durham.” Radford, wearing a vertically striped shirt, is sitting in the stands at one of the Durham Bulls’ games during the film’s dream sequence in which Nuke LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins) is pitching.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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