Welcome to Elysian Fields

Baseball1866_2

We now quote from the Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball…

"Up from the grasslands, The Plains, the cities. Up from the vastness of the land itself: Up Up Up To the Great Mississippi. Up to that First Field bathed in sun. Basking in the glory of its birth immersed in future time."

That first field was Elysian Fields, located in Hoboken, New Jersey, believed to be the site of the first baseball game back in 1846 between the New York Knickerbockers and the New York Nine.

Elysian Fields was supposed to be the Knickerbockers home field, but they got waxed, 23-1, which means they could relate to the Rangers current troubles at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

Only baseball, basking in mythology from Abner Doubleday to the Curse of the Bambino, could claim Elysian Fields as the first ballpark. The name is steeped in Greek mythology, going back to the Iliad and described as the final resting place of the heroic and virtuous.

That may or may not eliminate Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and a few others but Renaissance poets described Elysian Fields as a place of "feasting, sport, song," and in "Ode to Joy" by Friedrich Schiller, Joy is described as the daughter of Elysium.

There is certainly feasting and sport at Ameriquest, although the song part could use a little help from a new sound system, perhaps a switch from out-dated analog to digital, but why quibble. If the dot race is still going strong, Ameriquest certainly has to be Elysium as described by Henry Fonda in the movie "Mister Roberts" when the U.S.S. Reluctant was headed for a liberty port.

But whether talking Greek, Renaissance or classic World War II movies, the Elysian Fields remain a state of mind, a paradise of heroes, a place, as Virgil said, of perpetual springs and shady grove.

And a ballpark where baseball is played.

The postcard tradition goes back to the newspaper days, back to Port Charlotte, long hot days and humid Spring nights in the backwaters of Florida.

So now we merge old tradition and new, The postcards are back, only this time from Elysian Fields, the 30 ballparks and cities the encompass Major League Baseball, plus the minor leagues and those parks like the one in Hoboken that are only a memory.

Welcome to Postcards from Elysian Fields.

TR

5 Comments

Welcome to a past and present colleague. A lot of things struck me in looking closely at that image from 1846. One, the runner leading off at third is about to be torched with a wicked liner; guess they hadn’t thought about leading off third in foul territory yet. Two, the second baseman is standing on second, so the batter had a big gap to slap one the opposite way. The first baseman hadn’t quite mastered the best method of holding on the runner. The catcher is definitely poised to throw to second, but was there stealing then? I wonder how they created the basepaths and the moundpath…ox? Nice dugout…

Mark

http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com

TR,

Is that you in the crowd, third from the left?

Jamey

How big is that outfield?

You can tell by the catcher’s stance that they called the high strike back then.

And where is the umpire(s)? Perhaps that gentleman standing alone to the right of the catcher? Or did they use some form of the honor system back then?

– Mike

Welcome to the blogging world, TR. As a diehard Ranger fan, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and insights on the team and the season. God help us if Millwood keeps pitching like he did last night…

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