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More than any other month, October reminds me why I love baseball.
I love the crack of the bat, the raucous cheering, even the slosh of beer in a cup.
But there’s something else I love. Something quieter.
I became a baseball fan when I was seven, listening with my grandfather to Sunday games on the radio. My pepere loved the Yankees and wanted to play professional baseball until a cotton carding machine in a New England mill severed the fingers of his right hand.
With his left hand, he kept score—awkwardly--and taught me what the numbers meant.
“Each position is assigned a number,” he said. “The pitcher is number one. “
I made my own scorecard: wobbly columns on scrap paper for hits, runs and errors.
A few years later, I fell in love with the 1967 Boston Red Sox-- a split with my grandfather’s beloved Yankees that put us on opposing sides. Our new rivalry didn’t seem to bother him. I think he simply liked someone sitting with him, marking off plays.
In 1972, we finally saw our first game at Fenway. Pepere and I had $12 seats right behind the Sox dugout. We bought professional scorecards and recorded outs with small, squat pencils
I rarely missed listening to a ballgame as I grew up and became a professor and a college provost. After I became president of Mount Holyoke College, the Red Sox invited me to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
As I stood in front of the mound, I couldn't help but look to the seats behind the dugout, thinking of my grandfather and me hunched over, keeping score.
At that moment, it all flooded back: what I loved about the game.
Baseball is about sitting together--sometimes even silently--keeping track, waiting for what unfolds.
6-4-3. 5-2. 7-4.
Numbers in a box.
Trying—as best as we can—to remember.
Lynn Pasquarella is a Red Sox fan, and she's president of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
This segment aired on October 19, 2013.
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