I parked in front of the television on a cool New York afternoon.
Everyone in the crowd was well aged at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida, when Melky Cabrera stepped in against lefty Paul Maholm.
It was a comforting sight because Spring Training is supposed to be about retired workers relaxing at ballparks on warm afternoons. That’s one of the advantages of getting old.
I don’t consider myself old, yet. But age is quickly creeping up on me. The fans soaking up this game in the Florida sun had clearly known the feeling.
I imagined them all as retired steelworkers who spend a few weeks each spring watching the Pirates get ready for the season. Most of them probably saw Ralph Kiner and Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski and Willie Stargell back when there were still steel mills in Pittsburgh.
Those jobs are now gone along with the rest of the good jobs in this country. The faces in Bradenton were a reminder of what used to be and could be again.
That’s what Spring Training is really about.