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John Thorn: The Long Season


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It is not necessary to take a trip to feel the stirrings of renewal, but all of my friends in the baseball business had been to spring training many times and viewed it as a delightful perk of office. Most of my fan friends, too, periodically arranged a winter holiday around a Grapefruit League or Cactus League game. Until last year, though, I had never been to a spring training game and only went then because I had been invited to give the keynote address at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, sponsored by the academic baseball journal NINE.

At the turn of this year, staring at a sixtieth birthday, I surprised myself by registering as a conferee, with no task commissioned, no expenses reimbursed, totally on my own hook. I knew that I would be coming off a hard couple of months as I was scheduled to deliver, in the days before the NINE conference opened, a new book and a new scholarly journal of my own, called BASE BALL. I saw the conference as an opportunity to renew old acquaintances, take in a few games, rest and recuperate. For five days, nothing to do! I even looked forward to the transcontinental flight, with its layovers and inevitable delays, as a chance to read.

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