I am by no means an avid baseball fan. As a kid I tried out for Little League. I really can’t remember why I tried out; it just seemed to be the thing to do in sixth grade.
At the tryouts, I had no idea what position I wanted to try out for so they assigned me to home plate as catcher. I had never worn a catcher’s mitt with all its bulk. And I still remember how the unwieldy catchers mask obscured my vision as I was trying to see the pitched ball speeding my way. I likely would have been okay if there had not been a batter standing in front of me flailing away at the ball. Every time he swung I flinched. I think I was hit three times in the chest when the batter swung and missed. The “missing” often continued with me missing my catch…except with my chest. Yes I had padding but it definitely hurts when you take a fastball head-on.
My try-out batting experience wasn’t much better. I remember that after a couple of swings, I did hit the ball…right to the first baseman. Even though I was obviously tagged out, we were supposed to run the bases anyway. While running the bases, I suppose it was because of squatting so long in the catcher’s position, I got a cramp in my leg and had to hobble from second to third to home.
Back in them-thar dayseveryone who tried-out, did NOT get selected for a team. It is no surprise that I did not impress the coaches. No big surprise that I did not make the team. I was both sad and elated as I rode my bike home that day. I was sad that I failed, but elated that I would never have to catch any more hardballs with my chest or facemask again.
Even with my unsuccessful venture with Little League, I have enjoyed going to baseball games on occasion ever since. I always enjoyed watching when our girls would play softball. And then there was the heartwarming experience of going to our grandson Elijah’s Little League games, and watching him pitch with fury.
Living in the greater Seattle area since 2005 has also afforded us the chance to take in a Mariners game on occasion. The stadium and crowd are quite wonderful…even when the team may not be doing so well. The fans tend to be supportive and it is a very family friendly place. This was not true when we attended games in Oakland back in the day. It was more of a cutthroat crowd then.
So last week, my daughter Heidi and I decided to go watch some baseball. The Mariners were playing the Denver Rockies. Frankly, I knew none of their or even our own players, except our beloved right fielder. Ichiro came back to the team after having been traded several years back. Unfortunately he was not playing… or even suited up.
The purpose of this post is to encourage you to get out to a baseball game. Whether it is a Little League, Minor League, or Major League game, it is a wonder experience in people-watching even if you are not a baseball fan.
Heidi and I decided after getting off the ferry in Seattle, to take a ped-cab (bicycle driven rickshaw) over to Safeco Field. That was an absolute blast hanging on whiles the driver cut through traffic and streets crowded with foot traffic as we neared the stadium. In our case, after we entered the stadium gate and walked up the stairs, our seating section was right in front of us. This was almost too easy.
As most people know, baseball games can be boring, especially if it is primarily a battle of the pitchers. A no-hitter game is not my kind of excitement. This game however was not boring at all. It was filled with excitement all around. There were several triples (that is good if it is your team) and a few home runs. Our guys played quite well, even winning for the hometown crowd.
I could honestly say that the day would have been well worth it even had our team lost. Spending a day with just Heidi (and thousands of our new closest friends) was truly special. This certainly falls into the “quality time” category. That is important even when the children are adults. We both especially had fun with the “crowd wave” (too hard to explain if you have not experienced it).
With all the angst about what it means to be an American these days, here is your chance to be a “true American” while engaged with America’s true game. “Play ball!”
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