by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

TORONTO — Here I am in Canada, wandering in the wilderness. I am carrying my bat and glove. I have come to talk baseball to the youth of this nation. Tonight is the first World Series game ever outside America.

I have a job to do.

Ah. Here come a couple kids now.

Hi, kids. What are your names?



Let’s talk about the National Pastime. You do know what the National Pastime is, don’t you?


“Yeah, hockey!”

No. That’s the other National Pastime. Baseball. You do know baseball? What Toronto and Montreal play during the season?

“Go, Leafs!”

“Go, Habs!”

No. The other Toronto and Montreal. Listen, let’s start slowly here. You take nine men on one side and nine men on the other side, what do you have?


“A fight!”

No, no. Baseball. Nine men on each side. You know, first base, second base, third base–

“Fourth base!”

Only three bases. And the men protecting the infield are called–


No. Infielders. And the men standing far away are called . . .

“Beer salesmen!”

Outfielders. The man behind the mask is . . .

“The goalie!”

Hmm. This is harder than I thought.

Wrong kinds of gloves

All right. Let’s back up a bit. Let’s talk about tradition. Every year, when the weather changes, you and your fathers go out in the back yard, right?


Good. And what you do there is called–

“Hosing the lawn.”

“Making an ice rink.”

No, what you do there is play catch, right? With your Dad? He comes out after dinner to pl–

“First he puts on our skates.”

“Yeah, ’cause they’re really hard to lace.”

OK. And then he says, “Here, catch the–


“And make sure he has enough to eat, eh?”

No! Listen, doesn’t he buy you a glove for Christmas?

“Two gloves.”

“Yeah. What can you do with one?”

What about a helmet?

“I got one. With a nice chin strap.”

No! A batting helmet! For batting!

Goodness. Who teaches you kids to hit?

“Billy, the kid next door.

“Yeah. he’s really tough.”

“He knocked out Trevor’s teeth with one punch last year.”

Not teeth! The ball! Hit the ball!

“What ball?”

OK. Hold it. Let’s go back.

Sox? Or Hosers?

Listen, kids. If you’re gonna host the World Series, you have to understand its significance. The Series is a major tradition. It’s like Christmas in December, like Thanksgiving in November–

“Thanksgiving is October.”

“Yeah. Everyone knows that.”

The other Thanksgiving. Look, the World Series is history. It’s where Carlton Fisk hit that homer in ’75. Where Don Larsen had his perfect shutout.

“Wow. No goals allowed?”


Not goals — runs! No runs! No hits! No walks! This is serious business. The World Series is so big, usually the leader of our country attends.

“The Prime Minister?”

“Mr. Mulroney?”

The other leader. Of the other country. Aren’t you kids fans of the Blue Jays?”

“I guess so.”

“That’s a dumb name. How come they named them after a bird? Hockey teams are named after jets, and flames, and oilers.”

But a lot of baseball teams are named after animals. Cardinals. Orioles. Tigers. Some are even named Red Sox and White Sox, after the hose they used to wear.

“You mean they were Hosers?”

“Hey, Hoser!”

Hey, kids. You really should bone up on the World Series, since the Blue Jays are your nation’s team.

“How many are from Saskatchewan?”

Well. none.

“How many from Medicine Hat?”


“How many from Canada?”

Uh, none.

“So why should we watch it?”


“Oh. OK.”

“Cool. No problem.”

Good. I’m glad we got that clear. Now, last thing. You know what happens in the seventh inning? Everyone stands up, stretches their arms, and sings, all together–



Oh, boy.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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