The cracking sound piercing the air when a baseball connects with a wooden bat.
The muffled clap of the same ball caught in a leather glove.
These sounds can’t be easily spelled out in letters. Yet they can be summoned to a person’s memory and recalled, clear as day, effortlessly.
I bet you just paused to test that theory.
Or maybe you didn’t have to.
If you have a vivid memory and imagination, perhaps you even took it a step further and can now smell the hotdogs and beer, feel the hard stadium seats and picture the scoreboards at your team’s stadium.
Last week I wrote here about “Opening Day hits” – baseball movie recommendations. I concluded with an invitation to readers to contact me with their favorites that were missing from the list.
Jeffrey Petrucci of South Abington Township, a baseball historian, wrote in with several:
■ “Bang The Drum Slowly”
■ “Right Off The Bat”
■ “Everybody Wants Some!!”
■ “Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings”
■ “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”
■ “Fear Strikes Out”
Mr. Petrucci also brought up something I hadn’t considered: baseball novels.
And I’m glad he did. Because a good novel of any genre transports the reader into its setting as each chapter unfolds.
Don’t get me wrong; I love watching movies. But it’s not the same as enjoying a good book. In a movie, the characters experience the story for you, while in a book, you experience the story for yourself. Like magic, the words on the pages transform into pictures inside your brain. You’re drawn into each scene as if you’re there, rather than watching it from the other side of a screen.
In a movie, your imagination doesn’t have to do much work. In a book, your mind gets to do the work. It fills in the sounds of the game, the mixed smells of the concessions and the colorful sights of the stadium.
I’ve never read any baseball novels, but now I’m inspired to do so.
Here’s Mr. Petrucci’s list:
■ “The Great American Novel” by Philip Roth
■ “The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.” by Robert Coover
■ “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy” by W. P. Kinsella
■ “Shoeless Joe” by W. P. Kinsella
■ “The End of Baseball” by Peter Schilling Jr.
■ “Veracruz Blues” by Mark Winegarden
■ “Bang the Drum Slowly” by Mark Harris
■ “The Southpaw” by Mark Harris
■ “The Celebrant” by Eric Rolfe Greenberg
■ “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud
■ “Hoopla” by Harry Stein
■ “Alibi Ike” by Ring Lardner
■ “A Day In The Bleachers” by Arnold Hano
■ “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach
Another sound that’s difficult to spell out with letters but easy to hear in your mind?
The turning of a page in a book.