[This post is a part of the Letters to an Adopted Child series. Read the series preface here.]
The word baseball indicates both the sport and the ball used in that sport. And this shows an essential connection between these two things.
To play the sport, it is not essential to have a fence, it is not essential to have bags to lay on the ground as bases, and it is not even essential to wear a glove. Even without a bat you can still practice aspects of the sport—throwing from the catcher’s spot to second base, gunning a man down at home from right field, and of course pitching—or you can play games derived from the sport like catch and pickle. You just need the ball. There is no sport without it.
Granted, a baseball can be used for many things unrelated to the sport. You know I give Whitman baseballs to use as chew toys. But being a dog toy, truth be told, is a sad life for a baseball. These creatures were made for sport, and it is only on the diamond that they are fulfilled. The seams were not meant to be ripped and tugged by dogs, but gripped by pitchers to slide, run, curve, and drop the ball in midair. The roundness was meant for rolling slowing along the third-base foul line, fighting to stay fair as its spin pushes it foul.
This sphere, like the earth itself, indicates a clever, purposeful creator. Perhaps in school you have learned about the earth’s layers—the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and then finally the earth’s core? A baseball mimics the layers of the world, having cowhide and cotton as crust, yarn as mantle, rubber as outer core, and compressed cork as core.
A baseball, then, is a little world you can hold in your hands, and the game becomes something grandiose and strange, a spectacle of interstellar magnificence.