Safe at home

It was the rarest of March days in middle Tennessee, with trace amounts of snow and ice shutting down our school. First day of canceled classes since 2010, I’m told.

Spent some of our sn’ice day, the dogs and I, huddled around the Earth Stove out back, listening to Grapefruit and Cactus League games via the MLB app and plotting my contribution to the impending annual Baseball in Literature & Culture conference. Our version of Hot Stove League, in this middling zone. Next year, Older Daughter and I have decided, we’re spending our Spring Break down there.

Prompted by the Nashville Sounds’ recent announcement that they’re going home next season to their revered ancestral digs near the state capitol at Sulphur Dell (as renamed in 1908 by legendary sportswriter and Murfreesboro native Grantland Rice, from the less fetching “Sulphur Springs Bottom”) I’m working up a little talk on baseball’s perennial theme: completing the circuit and heading for home.

Where to begin? Well, first we’ll review the storied past. The old Nashville Vols were the Dell’s last occupants 50 years ago, before the quirky park (with its uniquely short-and-sloping right field) was demolished in the ’60s. It was at that time the oldest park in the land, having hosted professional play (including Negro League teams) since 1870.

Then, some personal and sentimental reminiscences about Herschel Greer Stadium. My first game in Nashville was there, seated behind a rope in the outfield. The place has become kind of a dump, and it’s past time for it to be left behind; but that won’t hold back the flood of memories sure to come when we attend our last game there, this summer.

And then of course, after that look over the shoulder while rounding 2d, we’ll want to pick up the 3d base coach and begin anticipating a new history in the new place.

Did some of my “research” yesterday, with John Feinstein’s Where Nobody Knows Your Name (quoting an old pitcher who staged an improbable comeback: “sometimes going full circle in life isn’t a good thing”) and (even more improbably) A Brit at the Ballpark. I’ll have to squeeze in some George Carlin on the significance of “home” in baseball (there’s nothing like it in football), and Carl Sagan (“human beings born ultimately of the stars have begun their long voyage home”), and Jennifer Hecht on hanging signs on trees and considering the “forest” home, and T.S. Eliot on returning home to know it at last…

The ice is slowly melting this morning. Guess we’d better get on back to school.

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