For as long as I can remember having memories of anything at all, I remember baseball. I remember watching my brother play down at the fields next to what would one day be my elementary school. I remember running to the concession stands for Bottlecaps and red ropes, Otter Pops and nachos. I remember little league, and I remember the Major Leagues...long weekend summer afternoons spent in the bleachers at the Dodgers games, cracking open peanut shells and waiting for The Wave to come our way.
I've been waiting for today for some time now. It's not that it couldn't have happened at any time, it's just that I wanted my son to be able to enjoy it at least in some sense. And since he can now hit a ball off a tee (this isn't something I've been grooming him for, btw. I'm not one of those crazy parents. I just saw the little t-ball set at Target and thought he may like it, my Dad showed him how to stand and to swing, and he took it from there. Whacking those brightly colored whiffle balls is one of his favorite things to do), knows the tune and some of the words to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," and can properly distinguish baseballs from footballs and soccer balls, it was time for
Today's New Activity: Introducing Monkey to Major League Baseball
Although I will forever be a Dodgers fan, I like having a local team to root for, and since supporting the Giants is out of the question, I've adopted the Oakland A's. It's great because the Coliseum is just 3 BART stops north of where I live, and since the A's are still a blue collar (er, green collar) team with reasonable ticket prices, I can afford to make it to games here and there. Even better, though, is when free tickets magically appear, as they did for today's game. My Dad was able to get tickets through a woman who works for the A's and was trying to sell my Dad's company season tickets. It turns out that when selling season tickets is your goal, you make sure those freebies are good ones:
We were 8 rows behind home plate. Best seats I've ever had!
This was the scene before the game started:
It was Breast Cancer Awareness day at the game, and they'd invited woman who'd faced and beaten breast cancer to celebrate on the field. Another survivor sang the Star Spangled Banner, and for the first time ever in my life, hearing that song brought tears to my eyes. It was the combination of the woman's beautiful voice, the strength and courage of all the women on the field, the idea "survivor," and the fact that I was sharing this beautiful day with my parents and my son. He was held rapt by the song too, listening intently and watching with curiosity when the song ended and the women released hundreds of balloons into the air (I'm sure he was wondering why on earth, if you had a balloon, you would ever let it go!)
When the Seattle Mariners came up to bat at the top of the first inning, Monkey was seated in his own seat between my Mom and me. She said, "Monkey look! Batter up!" (that's a phrase he's learned by now), and with that he saw his very first pitch. First ever. I was so happy to be there for it. I was so happy it was a strike :) And the whole game was great. There were lots of strikeouts but also lots of hits. He saw a homerun, some flubbed catches, wild pitches, tons of foul balls heading our way into the bleachers, and some great fan catches.
He also saw something I've never even seen in all the hundreds of baseball games I've watched: A batter had to end his at-bat prematurely because he was injured, but he hadn't been hit by a pitch. He'd simply overextended when swinging and missing, and it must have been really bad because he was writhing in pain as if he'd just been beamed in the elbow (another thing Monkey did see with an earlier batter). The whole stadium sat there wondering what happens in that case. It didn't seem fair to let a DH in for him, since that would kind of encourage fake injuries for that very purpose toward the end of the game when the starters are getting tired. But that's exactly what they did. And then, after the 10 minute delay of game, that guy struck out. Good thing: he was a Mariner :)
I'd been excited all day for the 7th Inning Stretch and a chance for my son to hear a whole stadium full of people singing the song we learned. When the moment came, he was like a deer in the headlights. My Mom joked that it was like he thought we'd talked all these people into singing just for him, and he was so thrilled he didn't know what to do. Rather than singing along, he just swayed with me with a frozen smile on his face, trying to understand what had happened.
He was, of course, introduced to ball park food in the form of a pretzel, nachos, peanuts, and Minute Maid frozen lemonade. No complaints in that area.
We got to see a few good rallies. That's always exciting...the chance to feel the stadium come alive.
Over all it was a wonderful day. And witnessing a rare A's win was the icing on the cake. Or was the icing this scarf giveaway in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness?
Maybe there was just a lot of icing to go around. Next year I'm going to enroll Monkey in the A's Kids Club, which will get him a hat, a bunch of coupons, and the assurance that we'll be spending a lot more time watching baseball and eating...omygosh, that reminds me! We never got him Crackerjack! There's always next season...