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.”