I cannot remember a time when I did not understand baseball.
Clearly, it was not always so. And with the help of the Hall of Fame’s new Swinging Away exhibit, I can image what it must have felt like when I was a child and the game was a mystery.
Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect debuted in Cooperstown on Sunday to rave reviews from curious fans and cricket experts. The exhibit, created in conjunction with the Marylebone Cricket Club in London and on display at the Hall of Fame through February, explores the links between the two bat-and-ball games that enthrall fans the world over.
But beyond certain basic similarities, the games are totally different. Watching a cricket match – with the passion of the players and fans but without a personal clue of what is going on – I can picture what it must have been like at five years old, watching the Pirates play on TV while my dad rooted for Lumber Company legends like Willie Stargell, Al Oliver and Dave Parker.
An out? A double play? A BALK?
It’s like learning a whole new language. And yet, given enough time, I could envision learning to appreciate the intricacies of cricket.
I’ll have the chance in June in Cooperstown, when the Haverford College cricket team will play a match just minutes from the Hall of Fame as part of Cricket Weekend. Until then, I’ll rely on our topnotch educational team – which spent Sunday teaching Museum visitors the game through hands-on demonstrations – to get me up to speed.
Remember that first foreign language class in school? That’s cricket for a baseball fanatic. You get the concept, but your first language – or sport – will always feel more comfortable.
It is, however, worth the effort.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.