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Column: Apple pie and baseball

By Tyler Morrissey
On March 9, 2014

At the start of every sporting event in America, the national anthem is played. Fans rise from their seats or bleachers to listen to the patriotic hymn and pay tribute to the country.
America and sports are so intertwined, but the one sport perhaps that is most associated with the United States is baseball.
Most people don't know that a class is offered on-campus that teaches students about "America's National Pastime." The other day I learned that the playing of the national anthem before sporting events began at a Cubs game. One day at Wrigley Field, a band played the Star Spangled Banner after it was announced that the allies had recorded a major victory during a battle in WWWI.
We are so used to hearing the National Anthem before basketball games, hockey games and football games, but I'm sure that a lot of us never stopped to ask why we do this?
Before Sept. 11, 2001, I feel like many people just went through the motions when the Star Spangled Banner was played. Stand up, take off your hat and face the flag. When I was younger, I was usually looking for the hot pretzel vendor, but all that changed with time.
It's important to take a moment or two before each game to honor those who served and those currently serving our nation in foreign lands. Without their sacrifice we wouldn't be playing ball on American soil. That brings me back to sports.
There is no better moment, than when a soldier returns home from active duty and surprises his family with a reunion on a baseball diamond or other playing surface. Go ahead and look for some of these moments that were captured on YouTube and keep a tissue box within arms length, some of them are pretty emotional.
As baseball season approaches with each passing day, I cannot wait to hear the familiar sounds of spring like the crack of the bat and the smacking of the ball in the catchers mitt. I also can't wait to hear the National Anthem through the p.a. system at Fenway Park. It not only symbolizes our love for the country, but also our love for the game.
If you were to ask somebody from another country what sport or activity symbolizes our country the most, their answer, most likely, is baseball. Even though the game has spread to places like Japan and the Caribbean, it's still our game and it will always be our game.
Baseball is a game built on tradition, much like America was centuries ago. So the next time you are at your favorite ballpark, take a moment during the national anthem and appreciate the fact we can enjoy our games in peace away from the dangers that other nations face on a daily basis. In the meantime, baseball fans can hope it gets warmer as the number of days to opening day gets smaller. It won't be long now before we hear those famous words, play ball.

Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerRMorrissey

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