On March 8th, most Americans sprang an hour forward to mark the beginning of daylight savings time. We did “lose” an hour of sleep, but all of a sudden, the sun rose and set an hour later, gracing us with extra minutes of sunlight at the end of the day. For me, that Sunday signaled the start of a new baseball (and softball) season. With the clocks changing, spring is upon us and baseball, my first sports love, is in the air.
Baseball was bestowed upon me by my elder brothers Suhail and Salman. Growing up in the Bay Area in the 80’s and 90’s, they became enamored with the juggernaut Oakland A’s teams of the era, particularly with the likes of Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley.
Wanting to like everything my brothers liked, I, too, quickly fell in love with baseball and the A’s. I’d bug my brother Salman to play catch daily in our driveway and peppered our garage door with my errant throws. I couldn’t get enough little league baseball, proudly donning my uniform and hat at any opportunity and relishing every practice and game. I collected every baseball card possible and would spend summer afternoons sifting through card shop boxes trying to find my favorite A’s players. I’d fall asleep listening to Bill King broadcast school night A’s games that went well past my bed time. My brothers would let me tag along with them to the occasional game in Oakland, permitting me to breathe the crisp, cool East Bay air of an evening pitchers’ duel while indulging in some cotton candy.
Now, years later, my beloved Oakland A’s are in the midst of spring training in Arizona before the season commences at the decrepit Oakland Coliseum on April 6th. I fish out my nearly half dozen A’s hats, many sweat stained, to sport and display my devout allegiance. Radio broadcasts of their games again accompany me on weekend afternoons and I spend my evenings browsing through box scores to check up on my favorite players or some promising unknown. I scheme about which A’s games I might attend, planning ahead for the chance to play hooky from work and catch a sunsoaked Wednesday or Thursday matinee. In fact, Suhail, Salman and I have planned a trip together to Seattle in May, void of spouses, kids and responsibilities, to watch our A’s play, using the centerpiece and commonality of baseball to maintain and further ignite our bond and brotherhood.
This past Friday, I forged into the garage, dusted off my cleats and dug out my baseball bag, full of leather mitts, batting gloves and dozens of baseballs and softballs. Time to take the field again. Luckily, the public defenders office I work for indulges my baseball craving by fielding a softball team for which I’ve played 3rd base or shortstop for the past 7 years. Even better, my friends and I have taken to playing pickup baseball or softball on weekday early evenings, occupying open park fields to engage one another in the game of our childhoods. We pick teams, load up on sunflower seeds and big league chew (gum, not tobacco), engage in playful chatter and commence several innings of childish exuberance and joy. We laugh at one another’s awkward swings, chuckle at our misplays in the field, cheer clutch hits and exchange high fives when a run scores.
In those moments on the field, either with my colleagues or my friends, I smile. I’m taken back to mornings on little league fields with post game juice boxes and snacks. I return to my high school baseball days when I’d create and shout chants for each of my teammates as they’d bat. I see those afternoons of catch with my brother. I am a kid again.
Editor’s Note: Sajid A. Khan is a Public Defender in San Jose, CA. He has a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley and a law degree from UC Hastings. When not advocating for justice, Sajid enjoys playing basketball, football and baseball, and is a huge fan of Cal football and A’s baseball. He lives in San Jose, Ca with his wife and son. The views expressed here are his own.