How Many Of You Played The Sport You Collect?

Yesterday I was reading an article about falling participation in “casual sports leagues” (i.e. organized leagues which play all their games internal to that league, as opposed to traveling teams), and it mentioned that some of the major sports leagues were concerned because research suggests that participation in a sport was the most common gateway to being a fan of that sport on the professional level.

This raised an eyebrow (in as Spock-like a way as I can manage) because my own personal experience goes completely in the other direction.  If anything, I attempted playing baseball because I enjoyed watching it.  Truth be told, it wasn’t so much baseball as much as pickup games which involved a wiffle ball, tennis ball or Spaldeen…  suburban adaptations of the stickball many of our parents grew up playing on the streets of New York City.  Some of my friends went on to play Little League, but I was happy with the games we played in backyards or the street.

…But that’s wandering a bit from the conversation I wanted to start.  I’m not really looking to prove or disprove whether or not that article’s premise was true.

I became interested in what the experiences of other collectors were, so I figured I’d just go ahead and ask…

Whichever sport makes up the bulk of your collection, did you play it as a kid? 

What was the highest level at which you ever played? 

Did playing make you a fan, or did being a fan make you a player?

…and if any of this want to write at length on the subject and leave a link here, that would be more than sufficient.

Thanks!

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14 thoughts on “How Many Of You Played The Sport You Collect?

  1. Whichever sport makes up the bulk of your collection, did you play it as a kid?

    Yes. Baseball.

    What was the highest level at which you ever played?

    I played hardball until I was around 17. After that I organized and played softball anywhere I could put together a team. Usually it was formed where I worked. I played softball up until my mid 40’s.

    Did playing make you a fan, or did being a fan make you a player?

    A little of both. Watching a 1969 Mets highlight film made me want to try and play. Then I started playing and watching the game real close made me a better player. It gave me a deep understanding of what a player goes through out there. So I became a fan watching the great ’69 team do miraculous things, then I played and being a fan made me a better player. And then I became a better fan.

    • Like Warren Zvon, Baseball is my collection choice and yes, I played the game at both ends of my career. Let me explain…

      I played competitive little league ball (mid-1960’s) through my junior high years. But when I entered high school, I was a bit burned out (or was it that I couldn’t hit the curveball that my peers were now throwing??) and turned my athletic intentions totally to basketball. After college (and year round participation in a multitude of intramural sports), I opted to play slo-pitch softball to try and re-capture some forgotten glory on the diamond. The problem was obvious: IT’S SLO-PITCH SOFTBALL and NOT Baseball!

      So, at the advanced age of 31, I found out about a fledgling ‘senior’ baseball league that had formed here in Oklahoma City. About a dozen of my softball compadres made the leap from softball BACK to baseball and we had a blast.

      None of us wanted to become a pitcher again, nor did we wish to go out and try to find some just-out-of-college guys who could still bring the heat and be our team’s pitcher, so we entered the Machine Pitch Senior League.

      We stayed together and played — with six or eight additional players to rotate in — until we were all about 40. But as much as we enjoyed our machine pitch league, the grim reality of kids, wives, more kids, job promotions, out-of-town business responsibilities and — as well as creaking joints and always-sore muscles — signaled the end of our youthful baseball endeavor.

      We sure had fun playing again! The feel of turning a double play again…the smell of that wonderful cowhide orb…the sensation of actually hitting an over-the fence home run once again…it made all the time and effort VERY worthwhile!

  2. Baseball makes up the bulk of my collection. Played little league, high school, legion, 4 years of college and a couple of years in a few semi pro type leagues. Couldn’t imagine my life as a youth not playing baseball. I think playing did make me a fan.
    The only other organized sport I played was basketball. Played high school and a couple of games in college ( disclaimer: I only got to play because half the team came down with the flu and the coach recruited anybody with any game from the athletic teams). Playing di make me a fan

  3. I never played any sport at an organized level, and played very little baseball of any kind. My playing experiences were pretty much limited to the occasional pick-up game (if people felt like bothering to try to find enough kids that wanted to play) and gym class.

    Being a fan made me *want* to be a player, but not badly enough to put in the work I would have needed to compete at the organized level.

  4. These days… I mostly collect baseball and football. I never played organized football in my life, but we’d have pickup games at a local church when I was in elementary school. On the other hand, I started playing t-ball when I was around 4 or 5… and played little league until I was thirteen. After that I went out for the baseball team during my sophomore year in high school. Unfortunately, I got beat out by a freshman (we both played 2nd base) and was cut. Earlier this year, I was browsing the internet and discovered that the freshman who beat me out actually went on to play professional ball. He even has a minor league card. It’s currently on my wantlist… and as soon as I acquire it, I’ll write up a post.

  5. I played baseball thru high school (minus the year I sat out because of the stupid transfer rule. Little League (with several members of the extended Berra and Bouton families in North Jersey), high school and summer Legion ball. I attempted to ‘walk on’ in college but I was told that they already had an abundance of slow first basemen.

    My football and hockey exploits were of the ‘street’ and ‘frozen pond’ variety respectively. I was far better at hockey than at any other sport. I was a pretty good goalie. But there was no organized hockey then, at least anywhere around us.

    My hobby collections had nothing to do with my playing. But I DID collect magazine pics of players whose stances I was always trying to copy.

  6. I started playing baseball at age 5 or 6, started collecting between 7 and 8. My first Halloween costume was a Padres uniform, and my dad was my coach for the first 5 or so years of Little League, so I don’t remember ever “choosing” to play/watch baseball, I just always kind of did. I think I could say that playing made me a fan.

    I played from 1st grade all through my sophomore year, all in Little League and Pony League. Tried out for the freshman team, but got cut. After that, I dabbled in volleyball and track & field, also played rec league soccer during the 1st grade – sophomore time span. I was usually one of the top players on my team, but not quite good enough to play for my high school (3,000+ students).

  7. HERE IN CANADA HOCKEY WAS ALWAYS THE # 1 SPORT MOST BOYS WERE ENROLLED IN FROM THE EARLIEST AGES …

    I WENT TO AN ENGLISH RUN BOYS PRIVATE SCHOOL WHERE WE PLAYED EVERY IMAGINEABLE SPORT SO WAS INTO HOCKEY – BASEBALL – FOOTBALL – SOCCER – CRICKET IN THE MAIN AND COLLECT IN ALL OF THESE TO THIS VERY DAY …

    IN HOCKEY I STARTED YOUNG AND EVENTUALLY WAS ON WHAT WAS KNOWN AS THE CANADA JUNIORS TEAM WHICH WAS TWO LEVELS BELOW THE OLYMPIC TEAM ALTHOUGH WE OFTEN WORKED OUT WITH THAT HIGHER LEVEL OF SENIOR PLAYERS TO SHARPEN OUR GAME …

    OFTEN, ON FRIDAY NIGHTS, WE USED TO SKATE WITH SOME MEMBERS OF THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS LIKE GEORGE ARMSTRONG – FRANK MAHOVLICH – PETER MAHOVLICH – ALLAN STANLEY – TIM HORTON – CARL BREWER – AND OTHERS ALL OF WHICH WAS GREAT TO DO IN OUR YOUTH …

    IN BASEBALL OUR SCHOOL DID NOT HAVE A TEAM SO I AND OTHERS PLAYED IN A GROUP OF 12 – 17 YEAR OLDS AND A FEW OF US EVEN HAD TRY OUTS WITH THE MILWAUKEE BRAVES WHEN THEY WERE THE PARENT CLUIB OF THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS IN THE INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE WHEN THAT TRIPLE-AAA TEAM WAS OWNED BY JACK KENT COOKE WHO WAS A FRIEND AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATE OF MY FATHER …

    I WAS A CATCHER / FIRST BASEMAN WHO WAS ALL FIELD / MEDIOCRE .260 HITTER BUT HAD WARNING TRACK POWER AT TIMES …

    MY SPORTS CAREER ENDED BEFIORE I TURNED 17 WHEN I WAS UPENDED IN A FRIDAY NIGHT WORKOUT WHEN A PLAYER CAUGHT HIS STICK IN THE RUNNERS OF MY SKATE WHILE I WAS BACKING UP, AS A DEFENCEMAN, WHERE I WAS FLIPPED INTO THE GOAL POST UPRIGHT, CRACKING BOTH KNEES, ONE BELOW AND ONE ABOVE ON THE KNEE CAPS …

    AT ONE TIME I PLAYED WITH 4 OTHERS WHO ALL MADE IT TO THE NHL WHERE AT AGE 16 I WAS BETTER THAN TWO OF THEM / EQUAL TO ANOTHER ALTHOUGH NEVER HAD ANY ASPIRATIONS OF PLAYING PROFESSIONALLY AS I WAS INTO BEING A BUSINESSMAN IN OUR FAMILY BUSINESS …

    HOWEVER, OVER TIME, WORKED WITH THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) – TORONTO TOROS (WHA) – TORONTO BLIZZARD AND TORONTO METROS-CROATIA SOCCER CLUBS (NASL) DOING PROMOTIONAL / ADVERTISING / MARKETING WORK …

    EVEN WITH THESE BAD KNEES AT AGE 68 I CAN STILL KICK A SOCCER BALL THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE PITCH ON THE FLY AND DO SOME SOCCER AND BASEBALL COACHING …

    IN LIFE THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT WATCH WORDS ARE TO NEVER ‘ RETIRE ‘ AND YOU MUST ALWAYS KEEP ‘ MOVING ‘ TO SAVE GOING TO A CANE – WALKER – WHEELCHAIR – BED.

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