The first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw MountainLandis, once said, "Every boy builds a shrine to some baseball hero, andbefore that shrine, a candle always burns." Mr. Landis went to that bigballpark in the sky a long time ago, but the words he said still hold true today,at least in my case. When Landis said a "shrine," though, he wasspeaking generally. He knew every kid idolizes the game in a slightly differentway; some collect cards and others write books. I built a room.
My bedroomis my own little slice of baseball heaven. I love every part of it, from thecarpet on the floor to the posters on the walls. It is a sanctuary. Only men likeDiMaggio and Williams get past Pete Rose (the St. Peter of my heaven) and throughthe pearly gates. I created this space for them and them alone. They are safehere, safe to play the game they love forever, no matter what their age. I admirethese men and respect what they did for the game, and that is why I created myroom. So, since Pete Rose does not allow mortals into my heaven, I will describejust how grand my dwelling is.
Soon after you pass "CharlieHustle" you realize just how much my room is like a baseball field. Browncarpeting covers the floor, but it is no normal brown. It is brown like the dirton opening day at Yankee Stadium, brown like tanned leather. The carpet is coarseand tough, yet smooth. There would not be a missed ground ball on my infield. Thewalls of my room are the color of the sky on a midsummer afternoon, a cloudlessblue, perfect for a ball game.
Upon those walls of wonderful blue ishistory, snapshots of times when life was good and men were heroes. In one,Willie Mays makes a miraculous catch. In another, Cal Ripken, Jr. stands with capraised after surpassing insurmountable odds and breaking an unbreakable record.Mickey Mantle has a space on my wall to himself. These men are gods and theirkingdom is my room. Babe Ruth sits like Zeus in a king's throne, and JackieRobinson streaks across a photo like Mercury. Each wall and each man's portraitis a piece of the history of baseball.
I sit in my room in silence,oblivious to the sounds of the outside world. Instead, I listen to the sounds ofthe game. I love to hear the roar of the crowd and the deafening cheers that themen on my wall receive whenever they step out of their dugouts. Hearing the crackof a bat, I smile. The umpire bellows, "You're out!" and draws jeersfrom the fans.
Then, from the walls come the voices of the players. Theyspeak to me softly, like a mother whispers to her child. Ted Williams tells me tokeep my eye on the ball. Yogi Berra says, "It ain't over 'til it'sover."
When you leave my room, you know you have just leftsomething special. Having walked upon that surreal earth and gazed up at thatblue sky, you feel a sense of ease and wonderment. In essence, you have been apart of history. You have looked at the pictures that hang on my walls, and eachhas told you a story. And, if you are lucky like I am, you have heard thebeautiful sounds of baseball. If you are even more fortunate, the spirits of theimmortal heroes of the game have spoken to you.
Kenesaw Mountain Landissaid, "Every boy builds a shrine to some baseball hero." After seeingmy room, there is no doubt that it is a remarkable place to worship the gods ofthe game. It is much more than that, though. My room is baseball heaven. As youleave and look back, you'll see the aura of a candle that burns eternally.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.