Lady Loves Pinstripes is honored to welcome a guest post by baseball author, NCAA coach, mom and lifelong Tigers fan Jeanne Hess.
As a baseball lover, the mother of two Detroit Tiger draftees, and author of a sport-themed book, I couldn’t help but notice your blog. Thanks for letting me stop in to offer a few words. I was 10 years old when I experienced my first Tiger World Series championship. My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Somerville, brought a small black and white TV into our classroom because that was back in the day when the series was still played during the day. Most of the girls in my class would rather have been out jumping rope, but I was happy as a clam because these were my boys: Kaline, Cash, Horton, Freehan, McClain, Lolich, Northrup, McAuliffe, Stanley, and the Gator. Ray-O-Vac made a profit off me that year, because I used up tons of batteries listening to the games on the transistor radio hidden under my pillow.
I wrote about this love of the Tigers in my recent book, Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, as well as the rivalries that inevitably exist at all levels of sport. Rivalries can bring out the very best, or the very worst in all of us. Sportuality asks that we make it the best; that we honor the stories of each team, of each fan, of every season, as special. You see, the word “competition” literally means “to work with.” Therefore, we need the other to make us better. The world is less hateful when we honor the competition, and let go of the outcome.
Positive competition was made clear to me as a resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, when a young kid named Derek Jeter was being pursued by major league scouts at Kalamazoo Central High School. The day after he was drafted, he was in a local restaurant with his parents and our then 4-year-old son went up to him and got one of his first professional autographs. That little boy would be drafted by the Tigers 17 years later! So we joined the community of Kalamazoo in cheering for Derek while many of us remain Detroit Tiger fans. Both-And … not either-or … I think that baseball lends itself to this civility, to this unity, this oneness that can inspire joy and peace instead of hate and war.
In my language, baseball is “Sportual.” Sport inspired with spirit. Baseball’s rich history, stories, legends, sanctuaries, and heroes now have the same opportunity for a culture shift that Branch Rickey used to create culture shift when he gifted MLB with Jackie Robinson. Sportuality redefines words that when used in sport can bring new meaning and purpose to our play … if we allow it. We must, or we will surely continue down the road to ruin. So Yankees and Tigers, have a great game, and may we all feel the joy of everyone’s effort!
Jeanne Hess grew up in suburban Detroit in the 1960s and came of age as a varsity athlete at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. The allure of sports and spirituality was nurtured throughout her 29-year career as a volleyball coach, professor of physical education, and college chaplain at Kalamazoo College, and by virtue of being the wife of a coach and the mother of two professional athletes.
Hess ranks in the top 30 all-time among NCAA Division III coaches, earning her 500th career victory on 2011. Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games is Jeanne Hess’ first book, and was released in January 2012. Since the book’s publication, Hess has been speaking locally and nationally about sportuality. Jeanne maintains a blog at http://sportuality.authorsxpress.com/.