Baseball season is almost over. Die-hard fans are looking forward to the coming weeks when the division pennant races begin, and the winners face off in a best-of-seven championship series. Major League Baseball’s World Series – played for over 100 years – is slated for late October. This “fall classic” is laden with nostalgia, so it’s a good time to celebrate baseball’s great tradition with a few of the activities suggested bel
- BASEBALL DISCUSSION: Show a vintage photo of a family at the ball park. Share childhood memories of listening to baseball games on the radio or going to the ball park. Ask: Are you a fan of baseball? Did you ever play on or coach a baseball team? Which family members enjoyed listening to games on the radio as you grew up? Who was your favorite Major League team? Name some great hitters that you remember. Did you ever see any of them play at the ball park? Did you ever attend a big sports event, like the World Series?
- RADIO HUMOR: Listen to some old-time radio baseball humor. Examples: from The Jack Benny Show – “Jack Listens to the World Series on Radio” or “Phil Tries to Collect a World Series Bet” or Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s on First?” routine.
- BASEBALL OUTINGS: Share memories of visiting a popular baseball landmark, like the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Babe Ruth’s Birthplace and Museum, the Little League Museum, or a favorite ball park such as Wrigley Field, Ebbets Field, or Yankee Stadium.
- WORLD SERIES: Share the history of the World Series, which began in 1903. Learn about the prize: the World Series trophy. Make predictions for this year’s series. Dress in team colors and make and hang team pennants. Challenge fans of the game to a World Series trivia game.
- SING, STRETCH, SNACK: Sing an enthusiastic rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Park,” and do some gentle “seventh-inning stretch” exercises. Enjoy some baseball snacks, like Coke, soft pretzels with cheese and mustard, or mini corndogs. Learn about the history of Cracker Jack’s “A Prize in Every Box.”
- GAMES: Pantomime the actions of a catcher, pitcher, batter, and umpire. Play a ball toss game, or hold a pitching contest. (Use a soft foam ball or a Whiffle ball.)
- BASEBALL TALK: Discuss the meanings of the following baseball idioms – within sports and in general: whole new ball game, touch base with, ballpark figure, play hardball, strike out, step up to the plate, bat a thousand, drop the ball, cover all the bases, hit one out of the park, the home stretch, throw a beanball, bush-league, major league, out in left field, pinch hit, screwball, a swing and a miss, three strikes law, triple play.
- TEAMWORK: Discuss how the following quote from Babe Ruth applies to the World Series: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
- VISUAL AIDS: Display the following props: samples of Louisville Slugger baseball bats, gloves and mitts, photos of Major League players with Slugger bats. Learn about the history of the Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball. Ask: What do you recall about Louisville Slugger bats? Did you or your children ever use one? Do you prefer to hit with a wooden or metal bat? Did you have a favorite piece of equipment, like a wooden bat or a glove?
- ATHLETES & ANNOUNCERS: Look at old Sports Illustrated magazines with World Series covers and talk about the feats/accomplishments of the great athletes who have played in the fall classic. (You can find these on the Internet.) Reminisce about some of the great play-by-play announcers of the game. (Examples: Vin Scully, Red Barber, Joe Garagiola, Red Grange, Curt Gowdy, Mel Allen). Imitate Mel Allen’s signature call: “Going, going, gone!”
- MEMORABILIA: Invite a sports memorabilia collector to talk about World Series collectibles or other baseball memorabilia, such as trading cards, autographed baseballs, or old jerseys.
- LESSONS LEARNED: Invite some current or former amateur/pro baseball players to share some lessons about life that they learned from playing the game. (Example: Never give up!)
- BLOOPERS: Watch a funny baseball blooper video. Share baseball jokes and humorous stories. Read some of Yogi Berra’s “Yogiisms” to your group, and ask for volunteers to explain the wisdom behind the sayings. (Examples: “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “Half the lies they tell me ain’t true.”) Write some original one-line baseball tongue twisters.
- DOCUMENTARY: Show some “inning” episodes of the PBS documentary Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns.
FAMOUS BASEBALL PLAYERS TRIVIA QUIZ
- Who was the first African American to play major league baseball in 1947, signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers? Jackie Robinson
- What team did power hitter Mickey Mantle play for? New York Yankees
- Which New York Yankees slugger was nicknamed the “Sultan of Swat”? Babe Ruth
- Which Hall of Fame pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals had a brother named Daffy? Dizzy Dean
- What was the nickname of NY Yankees star Lou Gehrig, who played in over 2,100 consecutive games? “Iron Horse”
- What was the nickname for Yankee centerfielder Joe DiMaggio? Joltin’ Joe
- The “Say Hey Kid” was baseball’s National League Rookie of the Year in 1951, and later became a superstar for the New York/San Francisco Giants. Who was he? Willie Mays
- Which New York Yankee Hall of Fame catcher played in the World Series 14 times and was known for his humorous one-liners? Yogi Berra
- What do the following baseball players have in common: Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan? All were great pitchers.
- What position did Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles play? Shortstop
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” ~ Babe Ruth
“Baseball’s Fall Classic” written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2014 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.