By Joe Rector

I’m back in the baseball watching business again. Yes, just a few weeks ago I said that I was stepping away from sports for a while. However, that was before UT’s team began its season and put on several exciting exhibitions of grit, determination, and talent. Things also have changed since my brother’s grandson Caden Rector began his senior season at Bearden.

I have to admit that something inside of me changes when baseball starts each year. Maybe the return of warm weather makes being outside at the ballpark exciting. I do know that the abilities of individual players to throw a baseball at 90-plus miles per hour seem almost superhuman. Even more unbelievable is that players use a slender piece of wood, see with Superman eyes, and smack that streaking objects 400-plus feet. Defensive players can move with grace and agility to stop ground balls or snatch them from the air.

For the past couple of years, it’s been fun to watch Tennessee play ball. As much as anything, each year’s team makes significant improvements, and that gives hope to Vol fans that before long they will be able to book tickets to the SEC tournament and possibly see the orange and white in regional games.

I love to watch Caden play ball. For one thing, he reminds me of his dad when he was playing. Both love the game and have inherited skills from their mother’s/grandmother’s side of the family to be good ball players. I remember Caden being unsteady on his feet as a toddler, but he swung a plastic bat at balls his dad or Papaw threw. He fell into deep concentration as he swung, but a smile streamed across his face when he made contact with that ball.

I plan to watch more games this year during Caden’s senior season simply because he will be the last male in our family who is playing ball. He’s not my immediate family, but just the same, any ball game is better when there is a connection with one of the players. My hope is that Caden has a fantastic year, one that he can remember for the rest of his life. That would be a good way to end his high school years.

With just a little luck, Knoxville will have a baseball team of its own again. Having a team play downtown in a new stadium is an exciting prospect.  Other businesses associated with the area will serve as magnets to pull fans and tourists to the city. The best thing, however, will be sitting in the stadium on a warm summer evening and watching a baseball game while enjoying a hotdog and drink. There is no better way to spend time.

Baseball used to be America’s game. Other sports have become more popular. I contend that no other sport is as relaxing, entertaining, or skillful as baseball. Younger folks don’t much care for the game because it takes too long. That’s because those folks don’t understand the nuisances of baseball.

I hope I am still here on this earth when the new baseball stadium opens. If they are affordable, I’ll buy a couple of season tickets. I also hope Caden continues his baseball career after high school at some college. I’ll take a few road trips to watch him play. I might even attend a few UT games if I can find a place to park.

The weather is warming up, DST has arrived, and it’s baseball time. If you have a chance, go watch a game and remember how much fun it is.