Baseball Field

The Iconic Baseball Field

As I walked a lap at Jackson Township Park this morning—crystalline Indian Summer—I reflected on the image of the baseball field within the circuit, and it occurred to me that it presented itself as an icon to my eye. Not simply a pleasing image in the flagrantly gorgeous morning slants of autumn sun, but an image that—if not demanding or even requiring interpretation—seemed at the least to yield some kind of interpretation to the receptive eye.

Baseball Field

Photo by Jon Lindgren.

I have long held that the images presented solely by nature, exempt of human constructions, are the inevitable and incessant sources of human meaning via the process in which they create metaphors for the human mind to assimilate however consciously or subconsciously. Very likely it is true of the man-made objects as well that we perceive every day—such as ballfields—that they too can become icons as we absorb them into our understanding. Like the original iconography of artistic creation in the Middle Ages—so important to a medievalist’s understanding of the art, mostly religious, of that time period—we have our own expanded canon to work with on the path toward understanding our values.

In other words, just as we have nearly lost the medieval layman’s seemingly intuitive, but actually culture-based, understanding of the “meaning” of a work of medieval art—so, we today probably ignore for the most part the iconic character of the baseball field. And it is certain that a person from a culture with no experience of baseball would be understandably nonplussed or mildly puzzled by the image of that playing field.

Nevertheless, a person imbued with our cultural experience of baseball and its playing fields can deconstruct all the signs—the grass, the intermingled dirt, the bases, the backstop, empty stands, dugout and all the rest—can make much of this image’s moment in time on a timeless fall day.

Or, one can let go—half-created, but scarcely observed.

Jon Lindgren

4 comments

  1. amywilson · October 26, 2017

    Very nice job, Mr. Lindgren! I know little about baseball fields but enjoyed reading this and experiencing one through your eyes.

  2. Mike Lindgren · October 26, 2017

    I for one appreciate the Wordsworthian undercurrent I detect in this essay.

  3. Anitta · October 27, 2017

    Lovely meditation. You know, one could actually do a lot with the comparison of a baseball field to a Medieval Icon. They both have that geometric character–and you could argue for the geometry of any sports field or court, but football and basketball are rectangular, just boxes and squares. Baseball, like the medieval icon, has a geometry that seems to push out of geometry–well, the whole sport is about pushing outside of the geometry while basketball and football penalize going outside of the bounds. I don’t know that that’s really apt. My knowledge of baseball is limited. But it seems like things like the homerun and that as much as pitchers try to pitch within a box of target, the drama of the game is really in the action that occurs outside of that box. I don’t know. Whatever the case, something about the baseball field and the Medieval icon seems particularly apt, even as I take Mr. Lindgren’s point that we’ve lost the cultural understanding that makes those icons intelligible as they once were. But we can create our own legibility for these things, no?

  4. Christa Mullaly · October 30, 2017

    Enjoyed your post Uncle Jon. Hope you will blog some more. I still remember your chicken nugget piece, makes me smile. THis was thoughtful and interesting. Love, Christa

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