If sports are the opiate of the masses, then Fred was a Red Sox junkie. When he listened to his first game on the radio he knew that he'd found a life-long friend. He liked nothing better than to be outside in his garden, listening to the Red Sox struggle valiantly against their fate. It meant nothing to Fred at this point in his life whether the Sox won or lost, as a matter of fact he wasn't quite sure how he'd handle a Red Sox World Series Championship.
Radio, of course, was the only way to follow baseball as far as Fred was concerned. On the radio baseball became half reality and half imagination and imagination could turn a routine pop-up into a ball moving "Waaaay back!" with hope for the bleachers. Baseball was the soundtrack of summer, and it belonged on the porches, living rooms, barber shops and gardens. It was a mistake, he thought, the way modern games were being pushed later and later to entertain the fickle wishes of the baseball consumers. These people went to games to eat and watch a mascots antics. They lacked the attention and the love of the game that was necessary to develop appreciation for what was happening on the field. Once that is lost everything becomes a vehicle for selling. These people are like fire, they consume a thing until nothing is left of the original.
Fred liked to turn a game over in his mind the way an organic farmer uses compost to make his soil richer. He liked to know how many men were on base, how many outs there were, what the count was, how many pitches the pitcher had thrown and how many for strikes. He liked to know if the runners on base were fast or slow, whether the other team had the over-shift on, how fast the pitcher was throwing, what the game meant to each team's record. These things added suspense to the game, and nuance, and strategy. With people talking on their cellphones and ballpark public address systems and television screens and mascots dancing around and people hawking sodas and pretzels and nachos and water and beer and ice cream and commercial time-outs Fred found that he couldn't concentrate.
So, he stayed away from the ballparks and he turned on his radio for day games and he enjoyed his game his way. He knew it was foolish to be sentimental, but baseball was a thing near-holy to him. Like church, a ballpark was a place where crowds of people still got together and sang. Like church it honored tradition and that helped an old man like Fred touch something timeless in his life once in a while.
Warm earth, a seed, and a little bit of water. Imagination, baseball, and tradition.
And an old man planting rows in his garden...