I heard a phrase the other day that struck a strong, lingering chord. I’m not going to tell you where because you will mock me.

(It was in yoga class. I am now quoting things I’ve heard in yoga class. I know. I’m going all East Side on everyone.)

The teacher mentioned giving gratitude for all the people who had gone before us “in a lineage of love.” That’s different from a legacy of love.

A legacy requires dedication- good or bad. Whether you spend a lifetime feeding the hungry or eating them, it requires effort. No one wakes up in the morning thinking they’ll just kind of wander into booting a kitten across the street that day (and if you do, please don’t expect me to let you in when you attempt to make a left turn on Columbia Parkway at 4 PM on Friday of a holiday weekend.)

A lineage is what we’re handed. We can’t do anything about it, partially because the ones who produced it might not have had much choice in the matter, themselves– either due to life’s circumstances, the era in which they lived, or the lineage handed to them from the generations before.

Legacies can be repaired and redeemed. A lineage is a list on a family tree and there’s no erasing it.

Lineage means that even if love wasn’t present at the beginning of the endeavor, it probably was at some point along the line. It could have appeared in the form of adoptive parents, a volunteer at a crisis center, a caring mentor, or a guiding boss.

It means someone at some point showed you love– even if that only person was you. You’re here and still here.

The Cincinnati Reds are here and still here because this team is sustained by love. We almost lost them at one point; the love of women anchored them at home.

One of my favorite aspects of living as a once and future Cincinnatian is that our baseball lineage is a long one, dating to the very origins of the sport. For those of us whose families are rooted here, our ancestors have some kind of relationship with the Cincinnati Reds, dating back to great-grandparents whose first names we probably have to look up on Ancestry.com. Even if that relationship was dedicated apathy, there at least was one.

When Josh The PIlot and I lived in Alabama, we attended exactly one baseball game featuring the AA Mobile BayBears. I have no idea of the score. We could not name a single player, then or now. But we’re part of that organization’s lineage, even though it’s now known as the Rocket City Trash Pandas and located in Madison. For that single night in the 2010s, our bodies were part of the attendance count. For a few hours, we ate hot dogs, wandered the stands, applauded the home team. We loved. We’re locked in.

This is why baseball fans concern ourselves with ownership and player quality. We enjoyed jumping up and down in the aisles and want to hand it down to those who have not. Even if we just want to experience the anticipation, quickened heartbeats, and years of savoring the highlights, it becomes part of our own lineage.

The next generation may choose to embrace it, discard it, or ignore it– but we have done our part, if even unwittingly, if even in the ignoring or the walking away.

32 Responses

  1. Vada

    Baseball may have been LIFE back in the 50s and 60s and probably before but no longer. Baseball is a BUSINESS. It’s saturated with Capitalism. Players no longer play like children do: as a game to have fun. After over 60 years as a Reds fan I am finally beginning to get the message: players have never done anything for me, even though I gave the team my heart and soul all those years. Owners and investors and players have gotten richer while I have had to live payday to payday. Why do I constantly ignore the definition of Insanity? Before this season ends I hope to jump off this crazy merry-go-round system called Baseball. If I can’t I will need to seek mental health assistance to get off. One way or another I gotta stop feeding this MACHINE. Maybe I can fill my addiction to the Reds by restricting myself to playing baseball video games. At least I will be the one having FUN while the animated players act out the role I want them to. Go Reds! That was a hint to leave town, not a cheer of encouragement.

    • LDS

      Don’t give up on baseball. The issue is with ownership and management. Players need to be reminded that they are in the entertainment business. Sports and Hollywood for that matter have forgotten that. Ultimately, they are going to slay the golden goose. It’s not capilitalism. That’s the only hope. Take our dollars elsewhere until folks get the message.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Perhaps there is a “reset” in our cultural future. The way the economy is changing so rapidly (gigs and working from home instead of the 9-5 cubical life that’s been the norm for generations), we might see a boomerang to the earlier days of baseball. Team value, like college tuition, might be a bubble.
        (Said the English major.)

    • Rednat

      i go back to the 1950s as well as a reds fan and i tell you, the thing that bothers me is that the players these days just don’t seem to be bothered by losing like they did in the past.

      i mean this team has lost 19-4 and 17-3 in the last 10 days and yet, if you look at their smiling and laughing you would think they are on a 10 game win streak.

      my perception is that the players are laughing all the way to the bank. the fans care more about the team than the players and that certainly was not always the case

      • greenmtred

        I’ve gotta ask, RedNat: what did you see in the 50s that led you to think the players cared more about losing than they do now? I watched a fair amount of baseball then, too, and can’t come up with anything. There are isolated anecdotes from every era, but I remember Reds players fraternizing with guys on the other team back then. Maybe your memory is better than mine,

    • RojoB

      The words of someone betrayed by their love.

      And that’s another reason why baseball is life (or at least like it)—because in life we get betrayed by someone or something we love.

      Baseball is life is an unshakeable analogy.

      • Rednat

        i feel betrayed as a reds fan not when they lose but when i see lack of hustle and effort on the field

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        ah yes Rojo I hear this– I didn’t even come up with title of the column; a high school friend did when I put out a plea on Facebook– but the longer I write it, the more apt it is.

    • Scott C

      I am sorry some of you feel so cynical. I understand, yes baseball is a business, and yes some players do play only for the money, but there are many who play for the “love of the game.” This is one reason I enjoy watching Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos play and Joey Votto. Both Jesse and Nick may leave for more money (most of us would) but Votto even though he signed a long term multi million dollar contract, could have waited for free agency and signed for much more.
      Regardless of how owners or players feel, the game of baseball has given me a great “lineage of love” The opportunity to go to a game and feel the atmosphere of a baseball park is something special. The opportunity that I have had to take my sons to a baseball game and bond with them over a team and a game, and hopefully someday my grandson. Listening to Marty and Joe on the radio. Oh how I loved to hear those words, win or lose, “the old left hander rounding third and heading for home, to me the game wasn’t over till then. Winning or losing is not the big thing, it is nice yes, but baseball is an experience to be enjoyed. Some complain about the length of a game but that nine innings is a part of what makes a day at the ballpark so special.

      • JB

        Totally agree Scott. I love the place of a baseball game. I dont understand for the life of me why people pay good money to go to a game and hope it gets over quick. To me I want the game to last 20 innings every night. I want to get my money’s worth and I just love the atmosphere it brings.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        Yep, nine innings, take it or leave it! I almost cried when I learned that my sister reconnected with West Coast games when it was time to feed my nephews in the middle of the night. <3

    • greenmtred

      I share many of your sentiments, but players still play, just as they always did. That’s what they do for me (and you). That’s what they’re supposed to do. I can– not always– forget about the other stuff and just enjoy watching baseball being played.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I think a lot of fans are struggling with their tipping point. As one comedian put it recently, “I can take one teaspoon of (crap) for a pound of entertainment or something I enjoy, but if it gets to be more than that, I’m out.”

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s a long way from when the players had to have off-season jobs and Joe Nuxhall spent his winters in a tire shop, that’s for sure.

  2. Scott C

    Great article Mary Beth, I think I said pretty much all my thoughts in the above reply. But I also did enjoy the article you linked about how the love of women saved Cincinnati baseball. I did not know all of that history. Thanks for sharing that.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks! I didn’t know about the history of the Rosies, either, until I read a biography of Ruth Lyons. That story needs to be front and center and I have no idea why it’s largely unknown. In the space of one generation, it’s gone. I want to keep it out there 🙂

  3. Daytonnati

    Like many who post here, I grew up when baseball was THE national past-time. There was no Super Bowl, no March Madness, no CFP, and no ESPN or any other media outlet dedicated solely so sports. The World Series was the premiere sporting event. I always had at least one teacher who would roll in a black and white portable to let us watch the games, which were always day games, with the 1961 World Series being especially memorable – the Reds and the Yankees. The Reds were televised 50 or so times a year in Dayton, with Ed Kennedy and Frank McCormick doing the call. The radio was Waite Hoyt and Claude Sullivan (for me). The Big Red Machine years, while I was in college, were glorious! I had an older brother who preached to me not to take it for granted – he had been through the lean years.

    My working career took me away from SW Ohio for 20 or so years. I found myself in apartment parking lots trying to pull Marty and Joe in on the The Big One in Saddlebrook, NJ, Greensboro, NC and Tuscaloosa, AL and my driveway in Atlanta – I really feel a loss for missing the 1999 team. I would catch the Reds on national TV and always tried to see them in person when they played in Atlanta. There was some woeful teams in those years. Finally, miraculously, I was able to parlay a transfer to Cincinnati to close out my career. I arrived to learn that I could actually watch ALL Reds games now!! I suspect, I have seen 95% of all televised games since 2009. Thousands of hours. I arrived around the same time as Votto and Bruce and Homer and really bonded with that team.

    So, I guess the point I am making is that not every city has a MLB franchise. Thirty do, and I live in one of them. I am rooting for the same team I rooted for when I was a Little Leaguer in Dayton, Ohio and Pete Rose was a rookie. I think there is a feeling here that the only thing that matters is winning. Winning is important, but not the only thing. I get frustrated, sad, angry with the Reds, but to paraphrase Mary Beth, “that’s life.” Could I ever quit the Reds? Nah … I might say I could, but I’d be lying.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      awwww thanks so much for sharing this! We “former and again” Cincinnatians will always have the bond of punching up WLW and hoping to hear Marty through the crackles 🙂 Glad you’re home.

    • Dayton Ducks

      Thanks for that, Daytonnati. My Dad grew up in Dayton and loved Frank McCormick, so much so that he put Frank’s name on our mailbox up in northern VT instead of his own. (Somehow we still got the correct mail.) I never knew (and I don’t think my Dad knew either) that he spent time in the broadcast booth!
      Great post!

      • Dayton Ducks

        Franklin, in the northwest corner. Am I correct in recalling you’re in the Northeast Kingdom?

  4. Mark Moore

    My personal baseball lineage hearkens back to the Amazin’ Mets who we would imitate as kids. My Reds lineage grew out of a love of baseball and extreme distaste for the NYY (while all my immediate friends embraced them). For me, it stuck and that’s why I’m still here.

    Great article MBE. Love the delineation between legacy and lineage. There is a difference and it matters in how I choose to react and move forward.

    • Angelo

      Interesting Mark as I have a similar lineage. Growing up in the Metro NYC area the Mets were the team. I became a Reds fan in 73 when Pete and Buddy went at it at 2nd base. The fire the Reds played with in those days inspired me and I have been a Reds fan ever since.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Wow, thanks! I had no idea you’re a Mets refugee!

      I like your emphasis on how we CHOOSE to react. Sometimes we think we have to live in anger, regret, and abandonment. It’s normal to feel those emotions, but we don’t have to live in them.

      • Mark Moore

        First time as a kid was legit and local. The final time was when my family was all together in October 1986. Dad had just died and we watched the Mets (with Ray Knight) smack down the Red Sox.

  5. Vada

    Very nice and respectful responses regardless of ones stance on the Reds. Expressing views without being personal. Many comments from the old timers hit a pleasant spot for me and those younger fans are optimistic (and should be – I was many years ago). Personally, I can’t envision the Reds playing in Cincinnati after the year 2041-2051. Many teams will be relocated by then for several reasons. My eyes are now beginning to shift onto Joe Burrow and the legend Urban Meyer. Hopefully the Reds making the playoffs will revert my attention. Keep in mind that after the 2021 season the MLB and Player’s Union put on the gloves. It’s anyone’s guess what the outcome will be.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I appreciate everyone and this reply. I feel that at least one tiny comment corner of the internet should be calm and ladylike/gentlemanlike so as to foster actual discussion and act as a reminder that there’s a human being on the other side of the screen 🙂