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Celebrating America's timeless love for baseball

Exploring baseball's mass appeal
Uncovering America's deep-rooted love for baseball 07:28

America has an enduring love affair with baseball. For centuries, it has been this country's favorite pastime, capturing the hearts of millions from every corner of the United States. One of those hearts belongs to "CBS Mornings" co-host Tony Dokoupil. From an early age, he felt a connection to the game.

"I think when you're a kid, you know, you got your dad throwing soft toss to you, and you make that first contact, the ball just does something, the heart flutters a little bit, and you wanna do it again. It's like falling in love," Dokoupil told "CBS Mornings" co-host Nate Burleson during a trip to Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

Dokoupil is a former standout outfielder at George Washington University. He is still among the school's all-time leaders in hits, runs, and stolen bases and had no problem showcasing his skills in the batting cage.

Dokoupil said his earliest memory of playing baseball happened when he was five or six years old, watching the Mets at Shea Stadium. He vividly remembered seeing Darryl Strawberry and Lenny Dykstra on the field and aspiring to be like them.

"When Darryl Strawberry hit a home run, in the old Shea Stadium, the apple would come out of the hat. And I just remember my heart was just lifted to the point of breaking. I was like, 'That is a dream. I wanna do that,'" said Dokoupil.

Burleson's experience playing baseball differs from Dokoupil's. A star athlete all his life, Burleson admitted that he gets performance anxiety, which is why he preferred playing wide receiver on the football field since he didn't have the ball in his hands during every play. 

Burleson said that he doesn't like being the center of attention, recalling how he was a good basketball player but struggled with free throws because of the pressure.

"Just throw it to me every once in a while and I'll do my thing," he said.

Insights from the pros

The hosts met with New York Mets coaches Eric Chavez and Jeremy Barnes, who opened up about some of the complexities of hitting a baseball.

"It's moving in different directions. It's changing speeds. I mean, it can be up to 10, 15 miles an hour differences in pitches," said Barnes. "And there's also the component of, like, it could hit you. And it's a hard ball that's coming in extremely fast."

"Baseball brings out a little bit of fear component. This little white thing can hurt you pretty bad," said Chavez of a baseball.

But even if you don't love playing baseball, watching the game with peanuts, hot dogs and beer while savoring the joy of America's favorite pastime is a whole other experience.

"Recipe for success," said Dokoupil.

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