As a young boy, my father often took me to Wrigley Field. I was so intrigued by the sounds of the crowd mixed with the scent of hot dogs and peanuts in the air. The ivy clinging to the outfield walls contained memories of past seasons and the Cubs’ losing tradition. As I analyze my attachment to this venerated shrine to baseball, I realize that my summer days working there helped me to mature, and taught me some sobering lessons. Other summer days relaxing in the bleachers suited my personality well.
In April of 1994, I began my summer job with the opening of the baseball season. During weekend games, I pushed a dessert cart from skybox to skybox, with the assignment to sell as many desserts as possible. It was fortunate that the success of the enterprise did not depend on my sales. Being somewhat shy with strangers, at first I had difficulty looking my customers in the eye. I stared down at the ground and mumbled the dessert choices. I am sure there was a universal feeling among the skybox guests that they were going deaf, as they always asked me to speak louder. The other employee assigned to the dessert cart always seemed to have more “tips” at the end of the day. That was when my sense of competition and pride took over. First I risked looking up; then I stopped mumbling; then I spoke louder; and to my surprise, I even started to have a confident personality with strangers. I was growing up, and I was proud of myself.
People all over the United States will remember the summer of 1994 as the summer of the baseball strike. I will remember it as the summer I got “laid off.” I had always wanted to work at Wrigley Field, and was so proud of my new success. I was one happy fifteen-year old. By August, I had half my earnings saved for a new Kurzweil keyboard.
The tension was mounting as the playoffs and World Series approached. Another tension was also accelerating between the owners and the players, but I did not take it seriously. Then it happened. Suddenly, the scent of hot dogs was gone, and there was no one to see the ivy in full bloom. The players and owners had forgotten the perfection and beauty of the game. It was shocking to realize that my heroes caused me to lose my job; the millions of dollars they were making were not enough. I could not believe that my dream of a new keyboard was gone. This suddenly seemed insignificant when Javier, one of my co-workers, expressed his anxiety about feeding his family of five. I wondered how many other families would seriously suffer financially when their paychecks stopped arriving. The word “strike” in baseball now had a sobering new meaning.
My days as a fan in the bleachers reflect a completely different part of me. During my high school years, it has become a summertime hobby to attend as many games as possible. My reason for attending is never just to watch the game, for I find Wrigley Field to be a great place for reflection. I always sit in the bleachers, where the fans share my enthusiasm for the experience. Our emotions rise and fall together during the course of the game. On a perfect day, I sit shirtless in the warm sun, observing, reflecting and treasuring. My view is of home plate and the elegant architecture of downtown Chicago out of the corner of my eye. Being an optimist, I continue to have hope that one day the Cubs will win the World Series for the first time since 1908. But even if they never do, I will always feel part of a larger tradition and a coming of age.
This applicant’s trouble is that he is too explicit, giving away the point of the essay toward the end of the introduction: “As I analyze my attachment to this venerated shrine to baseball, I realize that my summer days working there helped me to mature, and taught me some sobering lessons.” Although this is valid, it is a generic message stated through clichéd language. Instead of starting with an engaging anecdote, he resorts to trite rhetoric. He would have been better off starting the piece with the second paragraph. Such introductions cause admissions officers to begin to skim—not a trait of a successful application essay.
In Paragraphs 3 and 4, the writer resorts to generalization, ascending the proverbial soapbox and getting off the topic—himself. The writing takes on an almost stream-of-consciousness quality, resulting in a conclusion that makes no salient point. Though this is a good “baseball” essay, it was supposed to be about the applicant and revolve around a specific thesis.