Baseball: A “thing” I need

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Taken by Sara Scotti September, 2013

 

I’ve been on planet Earth for nearly 27 years, in that time I’ve learned four “things” that I need in my life: Baseball, a camera, Mexican food, and a “somewhat fast” car. These are needs, not wants. Though they may seem arbitrary, I’ve come to know a much happier “Nikolas” when all four exist in my life.

 

Regardless if it’s my Wednesday softball team or Sunday baseball league, I know deep down that being on the field is one of my greatest loves. There are moments I forget this, I take it for granted and just head home after the game disgusted that we lost. Other days, like this past Wednesday, I’m enamored by just being there. On the bleachers, when my team is at bat, I watch the action and contemplate how much this game has meant to me over the past 20+ years. It’s the small things that I love: the grass, the ball, the four bases, and the umpires. I’ve had good and bad days, some injuries, and occasional fights on the diamond. But it’s that diamond that grabs me; its shape and the magic that can happen within its lines after every pitch. It’s the comradery with the teammates and the gentleman’s approach to the game that keep me coming back. Unlike football and basketball, baseball is a game that is special to me, it feels different.

 

I had the fantastic opportunity to work for a major league baseball team during the 2011 season. Not just any team, my all-time favorite: the Cleveland Indians. Luckily, I wasn’t just selling peanuts or t-shirts, I was in the dugout for every home game photographing the action on the field and in the stands. I was the team’s photographer, getting the chance to observe the game that I love – up-close – and at the most prestigious level. In a way, I felt like I was part of the team for the season. I saw them often, on good and bad days. I watched them pick each other up from falls and encourage each other during opportunities. It was amazing. I feel that same energy in the dugout when I play the game with my recreational teams. It doesn’t matter if its little league, high school or the pros, everyone who plays the game long after their youth loves it. We all play it for the same reason.

 

I had an unfortunate softball injury this past January, it set me back from playing any sports for 5 months. This was my first big injury in life. Even riding my bicycle – a hobby that should be on the list of important “things” – was difficult and painful. This set-back has given me a new perspective. My move to Southern California in the fall of 2012 was for a variety of reasons, but one constant has been to play ball all year round. I’m back on the field now, and I plan to see it differently: I’ll take it a little slower, arrive a little earlier, and try harder to not take it for granted. I’ve finally recognized my true passion for being on that diamond: to be a part of a team. The next list I’ll write, “The People Who I Need Most in My Life: My family, my relationship, my close friends, and my teammates.”

Why Superman?

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I look down, under my computer screen, and see a Superman cup holding pencils and pens. My earliest recognition of the caped crusader comes from a comic book my brother gave me. The man in blue tights stood tall, bullets bouncing off his chest; the book was old and tattered, the cover read “1991.”

I can’t recall why I liked this red-tights wearing, all-American country boy so much. Was it the fact that he never kills or the “S” on his chest. Either way, my interest in Superman has never faded. In fact, to this day I have countless childhood relics scattered across my apartment. 2,400 miles from home, and my first Superman action figure sits perched on the Blu-Ray player in the living room – did he fly across the country?

That Superman figurine has been everywhere: from the manger at Christmas (which upset my Grandparents very much) to the rafters of the barn (while I was in college and too busy for action figures). Beyond the toys I own are Superman books, coffee mugs, lunch boxes, trading cards, shirts, key-chains, and a porcelain wall ornament. Why Superman?

If I had to pin-point the reason for liking Superman more than Spiderman, Batman or Wolverine, I’d say it stems from that earliest memory: my brother giving me the tattered comic book. It’s always has been that way, when my brother gives me something I keep it. Always. He’s influenced my musical tastes (except for xanadu), foods, and political opinions.

It’s fun to ponder the ways my life has been the influenced by someone else. From the way I shoot, my voice when I write and speak, and even my form when pitching the baseball. It’s all learned. Even my love for Superman boils down to one person and one moment.