The kick off of spring training translates to the unofficial start of summer for baseball enthusiasts. Believe it or not, baseball is still America’s pastime. Even as other sports are growing in popularity, so to is baseball. Last year, Major League Baseball drew the fifth highest overall attendance in baseball history at 74,859,268 despite the fact that most modern stadiums are smaller than their predecessors. For example, Citi Field which replaced Shea Stadium has a total capacity of 41,800, while Shea Stadium’s capacity was 57,333. Why does a game, that many consider to be boring, (those who don’t understand it) continue to capture our imaginations? Maybe it’s because every young boy who ever played little league baseball dreamed about hitting a five-hundred foot, game winning home run in game seven of the world series. What it lacks in continuous action it more than makes up for with strategy. There are statistics for almost every single possibility. Statisticians can tell you how often a leadoff walk crosses home plate or how often an outfielder who made a great catch, hits a home run leading off the next inning. I can still quote George Foster’s 1977 statistics when he batted .320 hit 52 home runs and batted in 149. He followed that up with a .281 batting average 40 home runs and drove in 120. Baseball is also a game with a long history. Although baseball type games can be traced back to England as early as the 14th century, the modern game of baseball was invented in the United States in the mid 19th century. Abner Doubleday, often credited with having invented the game in 1839, is not in fact the father of baseball. Alexander Cartwright published the first rules of baseball for the New York City Knickerbockers base-ball club in 1845. In 1953, Congress officially recognized Cartwright with inventing the game of baseball. With the start of spring training even Chicago Cubs fans can have hope that at long last their team might play in and win a world series. If the Red Sox could do it, why not Cubs? No fans should be as hopeful as Blue Jays fans whose team on paper, should be leading the field when the last regular season game is played. But of all the great things baseball has to offer, the single greatest part are the families sitting outside on a beautiful day and rooting for the home team. Of all the professional, organized sports, baseball is the most family oriented. Father and mother, passing down the history to son and daughter. It’s also the least violent of the organized sports. Baseball is about sunshine, peanuts and crackerjacks; the seventh inning stretch; enjoying the great outdoors with family; sharing memories. It’s not about the fighting or the hitting or the trampling. It’s about family and at a time in our history where families spend less and less time together, I can’t think of anything better than that. Play Ball!!