My best friend lives in Massachusetts, and though he’s not around on a daily basis, his influence is tremendous.
Even from a distance, he’s quite the enabler and has been trafficking baseball loot to me for years.
He likes to send packages stuffed with baseball cards, and I squeal with delight when I open the mailbox to find an otherwise nondescript yellow envelope with his hand-drawn version of the MLB logo on the outside of the package.
Recently, one of those envelopes contained a disc filled with photos that chronicle the past three seasons of baseball, which I scrolled in great delight as I saw images of Varitek blocking home plate, Josh Spence in a Yoda backpack, and that kid from Philadelphia who got tased.
We’ve sent each other Starting Lineup figures, talked about statistics, and enjoyed ice cream in baseball helmets at Fenway and US Cellular on our yearly vacation to see each other (it’s his turn to visit, don’t think I’ve forgotten).
The ultimate gift that my BBFF (baseball best friend forever) has sent was a hand-made T-shirt with the New Bedford Bay Sox logo on it. This ringer tee features a whale (which we’ve nicknamed Fudgy) swinging a bat, which is arguably the cutest thing I have ever seen.
After Fudgy arrived in the mail, I started to pay more attention to my BBFF’s escapades in minor league and independent league baseball in Massachusetts, which seemed to be frequent and involved teams I had never heard of.
I’d get picture-texts with captions that did not make a ton of sense, because I was not aware there were so many baseball options in one state.
“Headed to a Paw Sox game!”
“Enjoying a beer with the Bay Sox!”
“Beautiful night for a a Brockton Rox game!”
“Cape Cod League game tonight!”
After half a dozen of these text messages, I innocently made the comment that it seemed that Massachusetts had a LOT of baseball.
I mean, Chicago has a lot of baseball… after all, we have two major league teams and some other teams in the distant suburbs (which admittedly I have never attended, because the suburbs are ‘far away’ as I like to describe them).
But as the texts increased, I started to think he was messing with me.
The Brewster Whitecaps? Bourne Braves? Yeah, sure. Those are real teams.
North Adams Steeple Cats? What the hell is a Steeple Cat*?
And when I thought he was finished, he just kept going, raising my suspicion that either these teams were made up or that or that every square inch of Massachusetts was actually covered by baseball fields.
Perhaps the thing I love most about my BBFF is his attention to detail. If you ask him a question, he’s going to make sure that your question has been thoroughly answered through a detailed explanation, perhaps a link to supplemental reading, and in this case… a carefully crafted infographic.
I love infographics. Every picture tells a story, but especially when you include words. Since I was doubting that this much baseball actually existed in Massachusetts, the BBFF made this incredibly helpful infographic that resulted in just one conclusion: there is in fact a (expletive deleted)-ton** of baseball in Massachusetts.
This infographic captures the precise location of all of the baseball teams in the state, including their league affiliation, their founding date, and most importantly: their logo/mascot. The pennants at the bottom also indicate their accolades as league champions, which surely makes Massachusetts the winningest state in terms of baseball championships.
I’ve taken this infographic as a bit of a challenge: I’d like to attend a game of every team in Massachusetts, including the ones that I am still not sure exist (Falmouth Commodores? Does Lionel Richie play there?).
This trip would not be just for posterity, but I’m sure it’d be a great adventure for me and the BBFF.
Consider it officially a part of the baseball bucket list, Nick.
* I googled this, and apparently a Steeple Cat is a cartoon cat that looks like an elder statesman holding a baseball bat. Seriously, I still have no idea what a Steeple Cat is, and I’m not sure if it’s one word or two words. I also don’t know if Cat is capitalized or not.
** This is an inexact measurement, containing a four-letter word starting with ‘S’ that is often used when one wants to express the fact that there is indeed a lot of something. i.e. “there are a (expletive deleted)-ton of asterisked words in this article…perhaps you should write for Grantland.”