Among the things I miss most because of the pandemic is baseball.

It’s June. I should be watching high school, college, minor league and major league baseball live and in person, but instead I am watching World Series reruns and the Korean Baseball Organization playing in empty ballparks.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

Baseball is my favorite sport. I wasn’t much of a player, but I spent untold hours as a kid playing Little League, pick-up games and Whiffle ball, and playing catch with friends and with myself.

The permutations of America’s pastime are endless. When there was no one around to play with, I would throw the ball off the foundation of our house. Balls that hit the foundation first would come back as grounders. Balls that hit the ground first and ricocheted up off the foundation came back as pop-ups. Must have driven my mother crazy. Thump-thump! Thump-thump!

If there were only a couple of buddies around, we might play flies and grounders. One of us would toss balls up and hit them, a fungo art I can still manage, and the others would field the batted balls. The first to catch three flies or six grounders was up next.

As a batter, being small and light, I made good contact, but no matter how hard I hit a ball I just popped out. I had no power at all.

As a fielder, I was fairly sure-handed and had an accurate arm, a skill that has only deserted me in recent years. I owed my fielding prowess to a young woman named Linda, who coached my minor league team when I was 8 or 9. In a rite of passage that was as much ordeal as instruction, Linda, a college student, insisted one summer evening in the 1950s that I stay after practice so she could hit me some flies and grounders. I was afraid of the ball and she was determined that I get over my fear.

I can still see and feel that fusillade of batted balls, bouncing off my chest and shins, smacking painfully into my glove, landing next to me with a thud, rolling into the outfield as the sky above the playground darkened. By the time Linda got through with me I was catching balls with respectable regularity. Somewhere in New England is an old lady who taught a little boy to catch a ball and changed his life.

That’s not to say that my fielding ability got me very far as a player, but to this day I can watch a baseball game and appreciate, even experience vicariously, the satisfaction of deftly picking a grounder, taking a crow hop toward first and throwing out a runner. It’s one of the most basic skills of baseball, but unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to describe how fluid and fun it is to throw out a runner from short or third.

Mostly, I have been a spectator, but having played a little as a kid enriches the spectacle I miss so much now that no one is playing. The pleasure of being a fan is the relaxing carelessness of watching a game that is pastoral, open-ended and the same whether played by 2.6 million Little Leaguers or 750 major leaguers.

Getting to see future Red Sox players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi at Hadlock Field before Boston fans see them at Fenway is one of the perks of living in a minor league market.

It’ll be a great day when we can watch them again. Play ball!

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