Cleveland: Moving Home to a Place I Have Never Lived

*While baseball is discussed this is more a personal journey than anything analytical.

As I age just a little bit into the complete realities of adulthood, the word home has so many different and distinct meanings.

Whenever I drive to 4 Greystone Drive, Dryden, New York I feel like I am going home. Of course this is the place that I was raised and my family's warmth still fills the walls.

Having graduated from Clarkson University and worked in the New York State Assembly, Albany became home as my wife and I created a new feeling of home.

It is at this time that a new understanding of home was created in my mind, a home that could only exist with her in it.  

In just a few days, I am moving to Cleveland to begin classes at Case Western Reserve's School of Law. I could not be more excited about this opportunity.

What is more, when I visited, Cleveland felt like home. This sounds absurd, I know. 

I have never spent more than a few days there in my entire life. Yet, I have spent the last 4 years blogging about the Cleveland Indians for various sites and discussing various levels in the Indians system.

I am an inexplicable outlier, a transplanted fan who has relied upon baseball as a catharsis, as an escape from the more challenging parts of life.

My father, my namesake was raised in Medina, Ohio where some delightful relatives remain. In wanting to be like my father, I became a Cleveland Indians fan. Of course, I enlivened in him a passion for Indians baseball that had dried out during the dark and loss-ridden eighties.

As a son his stories awakened in me an interest that has never waned. My dad told me stories about going to the ballpark for a dollar and how obsessive his mother was with keeping book.

My favorite story regards an interaction my father had with his father Glenn following another game of antics from Jimmy Piersall*.

*Piersall is famous for odd antics that included running the bases facing backwards following a home run, sprinting back and forth in the outfield while Ted Williams was at the plate, and wearing a little league helmet to the plate.

Mike SR: Piersall is so much fun to watch, he is my favorite player.
Glenn: Anyone who could be a fan of that wackjob Jimmy Piersall is not welcome in my house.
Mike SR: I guess I should start packing.

Though, this dialogue is paraphrased and can't be continued for the sake of the readership it remains humorous to me.

As much as I was interested in the stories, I had yet to attend a game at Jacobs Field as living 7 hours away was not conducive to attendance.

The first Indians game I attended was Game 3 of the 1998 ALCS. A game in which a young Bartolo Colon dominated the eventual World Series winners, in front of 45,000 other Indians fans. 

I would like to say that this was the moment in which I fell in love with the Indians but  I was only five years old, and in the 5th inning of what is likely the most exciting game I will ever see live, I fell asleep. 

Yet, my sleep was the beginning of an awakening. I soon played my first season of t-ball and only wanted to play one position; shortstop.

There was no person on this earth that 6-11 year old Mike Hattery wanted to be more than Omar Vizquel, though Jim Thome was a close second.

My wall was covered in pictures of Ellis Burks, Jim Thome and a street sign indicated that my room was more appropriately titled "Omar Vizquel Way".

Indeed, I still remember crying the day Jim Thome left Cleveland for more money, and 12 year old Mike will never forgive him.

I remember the day I used a dial-up internet connection and found out that Omar was no longer an Indian, a moment I shall never forget.

I continued playing shortstop in his honor until my body type and range began to be more suited for first base than shortstop.

I came of age following a group of pretty bad Indians teams anchored by Ricky Gutierrez, Bill Selby and even Greg Larocca. 

But, as I suspect was the case with any Indians fan of the past 20 years, Tom Hamilton became a part of my family. Before existed, on really clear summer nights, my father and I would listen to the voice of Tom Hamilton on WTAM. A man who found a way to bring so much excitement to the teams of the early 00's that offered anything but excitement.

There is no greater memory I have of home than listening to Tom Hamilton with my father and discussing life and baseball as each faded in and out.

Baseball is exceptional in my life because of the stability, and peace it offers. For five months a year, growing up the days were spent outside on the field, on the golf course or at work and the nights, the nights were reserved for baseball, family.

Baseball is not a sporadic weekend occurrence rather it is an epic which we consume with those we care about. Being a baseball fan is not only about the Indians outcomes but the time and journey which you experience while watching the game.

In my life, baseball has been more than an escape from whatever I wish in life, it is a conduit to sharing a journey and in a way, sharing life.

In this way, baseball is home to me, a passageway to comfort and peace. 

Of course, there are many more significant factors that led to the decision to attend Case and ultimately move to Cleveland.

But I feel like a part of me is headed home, and that excites me.

For these next few years, I will call Jacobs Field home ( I won't ever refer to it as Progressive,), I can't wait to share this new "home" with all of you.
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