If five years ago today, you predicted my future would include blogging about baseball for MASNsports.com, I would have given you an odd look. Before 2006, I had never been to a professional baseball game, and I still thought baseball was about as interesting as watching paint dry.
Goes to show you never know what will happen.
I think a lot of baseball fans, especially lifelong baseball fans, have a story to tell about their love of the game. That story might begin with a young boy playing catch with his father, a little girl listening to the game on the radio with her grandfather or a single mother taking her sons to the ballpark.
I get the sense that many such stories start in childhood, but it's also possible to fall in love during the fifth decade of your life. That's what happened to me.
Sometime in 2006, probably around the All-Star break, I went to several Nationals games: a couple with a close friend and her husband, and a couple with a then-boyfriend. I went to the games to socialize, but I've always liked sports and was open to learning about baseball, despite my preconception that the game was a bit of a snore.
My friends told me that once a player is taken out of the game, the manager cannot use him again in the same game. And my boyfriend explained how players are numbered from one through nine, which I'll concede is handy for keeping track of what's happened in the game.
Pretty basic stuff, I know, but a little bit of information sparked my imagination. I went to more games, asked a lot of questions and began to read about baseball. The more I learned, the more interested I became. I was curious about the difference between pitches and about the strategy behind using a right-hander or a left-hander in different situations.
I also liked learning about the personal stories of players, with some struggling to realize their dreams and others trying to revive the magic or make it last just a little bit longer.
One might say things spiraled out of control quickly after that. In 2007, I bought a share in someone else's season-ticket group. In 2008, I bought my own season tickets and became a tour guide at Nationals Park. In 2009, I bought more tickets and went to more games. And in 2010, I started blogging about baseball at Nationals Fangirls. This week, my blog became Nationals Fangirl. You should check it out.
Going to games and writing about baseball is a hobby. I'm not a credentialed blogger, like several of the guest bloggers who also will write here about the Nationals during the second half of the 2011 season. I buy tickets to the games and sit with the fans. I collect autographs on baseballs. And I cheer and yell enough from my field-level seats that I'm pretty sure most of the coaches and players now recognize me, even if they might not know my name.
It isn't a lifelong love, but it's a love that I share with friends and family. My father has always been a baseball fan, and the game is now part of our everyday conversation. My mom is a more recent convert, who has eagerly joined me on baseball roadtrips, including one last fall to watch prospects play in the Arizona Fall League.
And although it's too soon to tell, I think my nieces will fall for the game and someday tell a story about how their love began, in part, when their Aunt Jenna took them to Nationals Park on a hot summer day.
Jenn Jenson blogs about the Nationals at Nationals Fangirl and has joined MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.