Ask a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker about baseball, and you are guaranteed to get an earful about the best team, best player, and most memorable moment. Baseball is truly America’s pastime – a sport that connects us all, regardless of age, gender or income. We found that baseball resonates with our residents too. We’ve asked them about baseball, specifically Yankees baseball, and we heard about Joltin’ Joe, the “Mick” and the endless summer days sitting in the bleachers shouting “Let’s Go Yankees.”
To us, baseball is more than a sport. It plays a larger role in the fabric of our lives, across the generations. This summer, we brought baseball to the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in a multitude of platforms. Our recently opened Yankees Dugout exhibition began as a tribute to Mantle, DiMaggio and Jeter and quickly became so much more as we realized that baseball, much like music, is a window of communication for older adults. It is a powerful theme that brings back cherished memories, sparks dialogues among the generations, and is a launchpad for creativity.
The Yankees Dugout exhibition features authentic Yankee collectibles, from a hand-written page of Joe Di’Maggio’s diary to turnstiles from the old Yankee Stadium. All on loan from Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports. While this memorabilia spans seven decades and is quite valuable, its true value rests in its power to foster memories -- of playing ball with the kids in the backyard, taking them to their first professional baseball game and relishing that quality family time that is priceless.
We have integrated baseball into our therapeutic activities throughout the nursing home, featuring it as the subject of the Home’s poetry groups, a topic of conversation on Memory Care floors, and an opportunity for intergenerational dialogue and connection among residents and their family and friends.
I encourage you to visit the Hebrew Home’s Yankees Dugout and use it as an opportunity to share memories, learn about a loved one and simply enjoy America’s pastime. And when you can, as they say,…”Play ball!”