When you're growing up in a baseball culture, you have so much going on around you, all of the time.
In little league you have those late afternoon practices after a long day of elementary school (the good old days), that your mom or dad would rush around to make sure you were there on time, and then the long weekend mornings turned afternoons turned nights filled with little league and travel ball games, but amongst all of this craziness, you learn to love the game or find a new hobby, then going home, there's more baseball on your television.
What kind of effect could this have had on a "normal" kid?
I can't speak on that matter, because for me, I loved it more and more consistently.
The ripple effect the game of baseball has is like a companionship. You have baseball nearly every single night from late March to November, and it becomes a fixture. You could've always caught me watching it late at night, staying up for the web gems on Baseball Tonight, mimicking the players by taking my glove and throwing a ball in the air and diving into my bed until my mom heard the commotion and came in to see what was up, but this was just the kind of effect the game has on me and still has even post playing days, to this very moment.
I think the coolest part about baseball's culture, is the role models. Speaking personally, my favorite players growing up were Ken Griffey Jr., Alfonso Soriano, and Derek Jeter. These players had such a huge effect on me (and I'm sure thousands upon thousands of others) and they'd never know it. From mimicking the way Griffey wore his backwards hat to the home run derby or in warm-ups, to setting up a wide set, unorthodox batting stance and wearing my pants rolled up high like Alfonso Soriano, to putting on a Yankees hat, and throwing ground balls off of this bounce back thing I had, and mimicking the famous Jeter jump throws; the ripple effect of the baseball culture is just so beautiful.
In this video, you can see the genuine excitement Kansas City Royals infielder, Whit Merrifield, has as he meets one of his favorite players growing up, Hideki Matsui. (Video Courtesy of MLB's Official Twitter Handle)
It trickles down from generation to generation, from family to family, friend to friend. The love for the game of baseball, its legends past and present, and the ingenuity of the game is something that's ever-lasting. If you don't love the game quite yet, come to a field with me, come to a game with me, watch the twinkle in my eye as I step near a baseball diamond, or sit back and watch a game...
I thank my dad for his countless years of coaching, love, and care for me throughout a game that has incredibly high ups and downs.
I thank my mom for putting her best efforts to get me to practices and games on time as a kid, and being my #1 fan.
I thank my pop and nonna for loving Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees and raising me in a backyard in Long Island, NY, and tossing me wiffle balls to learn how to play.
I thank all of my role models throughout the years while playing the game and watching it, all of you guys are huge parts of the reason the game of baseball has had this incredible effect on me, and will until my last day.
All of these factors have been a part of the ripple effect that allows me to love this game and teach it, inform about it and enjoy it every single day.