We lose sight of it sometimes as we strain to look over the outer fences, but home is the heart of baseball. When the Reds moved out of Crosely Field and into Riverfront Stadium, despite the haste to enter into the shiny new stadium, the team didn’t merely move Tony Perez’s shoes from one locker room to another. There was a ceremony, and a great whirring helicopter, and home plate was ritually moved from one residence to the other.
There’s precious little of this when mere mortals change addresses. Doors barge open, furniture is shoved inside, and everyone wanders around looking for the garage door opener, which is in the microwave, which is on top of the couch.
This is all part of the depersonalization inherent in the moving process; you don’t know where any of your stuff is, so your life is chaos. You can’t get anything done. A shower involves a 20-minute rummage through storage containers. Throwing together a casserole would involve a major architectural expedition and narration from a British actor. And all this is happening in your home.
Home in baseball is a blank spot, for all its importance, and the owner of it changes nine times a game. The verging Hall of Famer shares it with the rookie who will never visit here again after this at-bat. The vacant space leaves room for the authorship of history, whether in Game 7 of the World Series or a sparsely attended August afternoon grind. The umpire brushes away the evidence of the past, and we move on.