Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Baseball and Fly Fishing

As a kid I lived in the Los Angeles area during the sixties. The number of "baby boomers" on our street was impressive so there was always enough of us to play some bastardized form of baseball...we all loved baseball.
Whether it was just playing "Three Flies Up" or "500" or street baseball, us neighborhood kids couldn't get enough of it.
Through my father I grew to live and die with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many a pleasant Sunday was spent in the left field pavilion of Chavez Ravine also know as Dodger Stadium. It was a cheap enough family outing since seats were only a buck and a half. Dad would spring for a Dodger dog and we would enjoy a Sunday double-header of Drysdale, Koufax and the Davis boys or Willie Mays of the hated Giants, who parked  a homer just a few rows below us during a game.
The voice of Dodger Vin Scully was  and still is a major part of my life.

I think the love of baseball was just a natural progression into fly fishing. Oregon is a baseball wasteland, for the most part, with only a minor league club in the area and the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field about 175 miles away. So what does all this have to do with fly fishing?
I think you can find parallels between the two.
Baseball is a game of patience, skill and finesse much like fly fishing over finicky steelhead or selective trout. The duel between the pitcher and the batter is kind of like that between an angler and a fish. The pitcher will try everything in his pitching repertoire to outsmart the batter. Have you ever seen a batter so completely fooled by a curve ball or some off speed pitch that his legs just seem to turn to jelly? How many times have you gone through the contents of your fly box in search of that special pattern that will fool a trout.

Baseball is a pastoral and timeless. There are no clocks with baseball and as long as you can keep hitting the game can go on forever.
Fly fishing is idyllic as it is pleasant and innocent so can you see the similarities?
The biggest similarity, of course, is springtime! For the baseball fan and fly fisherman the winter can seem endless and unyielding. One might think that winter will never relinquish it's icy grip on not only the weather but our souls. Just when you think that you cannot possibly endure one more storm the words, those wonderful words that are the elixir to our deeply frozen sanity are spoken.... "Pitchers and catchers report next week" or "Did you hear the March Browns are hatching on the McKenzie?"
It's magic!!!!
The winter is in it's death throes and while it might try to make a valiant comeback once or twice during the early spring you know it's just a matter of time. We put up with those early season rain outs and start thinking about those first treks over Mt. Hood or through the Santiam Pass to the Deschutes or Metolius.
We baseball fans/fly fishermen spend endless hours basking in the warmth that is our joy of the season. We think that the days of the 6-4-3 double play or the evening hatch will not end. We are like a child again and the spectre of the coming fall and winter just will not dampen our frolic.
Alas though, when it seems like we need them the most and the autumn arrives with it's hint of the winter yet to come, baseball and fly fishing leave us. Alone and forlorn we dwell on the victories and the defeats of our passion and utter the age old cry of the ever optimistic fan/angler...Wait 'til next year!