26 July 2009

America's game...


America's Game.

I love baseball. Attending a game on a perfect summer evening is one of my favorite things in the world. There's just nothing like it.

Last night was one of those rare perfect evenings during a Rhode Island summer - not too hot, no humidity, nice breeze. The best night to see a baseball game.

Chris spends most of yesterday in complete frustration over computer issues - data from an older laptop not loading properly onto a new laptop - getting almost entirely through the transfer process and then stopping with some kind of error at the end.

I volunteer in the morning and come home to collapse for a while in a tired heap on the couch.

Around mid-afternoon, sensing my husband's extreme frustration (not all that difficult considering this is what I hear from across the room for several hours is "SON OF A-!!" and various other muttered expletives at each failed data transfer.) Chris gets on the phone looking for a new cord thinking that maybe it's an equipment issue - something better than the one that he is currently using. He finds one in stock at the Apple Store at the Mall.

Seizing my chance to get Chris out of the house/away from his computer/source of aggravation and to get us out doing something fun, I say, "Hey, why don't we head over to the Mall to get the cord you need and then hit Waterfire?"

He still looks very unhappy.

Waterfire is apparently of no interest to aggravated husband.

No sale.

Try again.

"OK, what if we hit the Mall and then head over to the PawSox game?"

He still looks unhappy, but shows a brief spark of interest.


"It's beautiful out. We can get out of the house... get what you need and then...go to the ballpark...have a couple of hot dogs...watch the game...enjoy this gorgeous evening..."

The description lingers in the air for a minute...and then...

Sold to the man with the computer issues!!


I doze off again for a while. Chris wakes me at around 3:30. I head upstairs to shower/get ready and we're out the front door by 3:50. ("You are SO lucky," I say to Chris as we leave. "I am so low maintenance. I don't take 2 hours to get ready and I'm totally happy hitting a baseball game for the evening.")

Our trip to the mall is quick and soon we are at McCoy Stadium purchasing our General Admission tickets and securing our seats.

If you've never been to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket - GO.

McCoy a great little stadium with good sightlines, relatively comfortable seats, a nice outfield (complete with a mini-Green Monster in centerfield,) decent food, decent ticket prices and is home to the Pawtucket Red Sox.

McCoy Stadium is also the site of the longest game in baseball history lasting a whopping 33 innings. The marathon game began on April 18, 1981 and was halted 8 hours later still in a tie at 4:09 a.m. on April 19. The 33rd inning was played and completed in just 18 minutes on June 23rd with the Pawtucket Red Sox beating the Rochester Red Wings 3-2.

The Pawtucket Red Sox (known by fans as the "PawSox") are the AAA farm team for the Major League Boston Red Sox. When Boston Red Sox players are injured and temporary replacements are needed, players are called up from the PawSox. Injured Boston Red Sox players often do their re-hab stints in Pawtucket. Fans like me can see their favorite Major Leaguers play at McCoy Stadium. I watched short stop Jed Lowrie in a recent re-hab stint. He sure didn't look injured making an incredible diving catch to end a close inning.

My favorite seats are along the third baseline (preferably slightly beyond third base into the outfield) because from there one has a great view of the infield and of all of the action that happens on the pitcher's mound, homeplate and all of the bases. And there is still a wonderful view of the outfield.

Last night we sit in our usual third base spot.

The breeze is lovely. We have peanuts. Yay! All of the pre-game hoopla is great as usual including a fantastic jazzy rendition of the National Anthem by a trumpet player. The fans give him an extended round of extremely enthusiastic applause.

Play ball!

The PawSox are playing the Columbus Clippers - the AAA farm team for the New York Yankees - arch-nemesis of the Boston Red Sox.

Sitting behind us is one very brave soul in a Yankees cap. He's an older gentleman who takes great delight in cheering for the Clippers. He may be the only person in the entire stadium to be doing so. Luckily no one in our section makes trouble for the guy (as might happen at a Major League stadium...)

The first three innings...rather horrific for the Clippers as the PawSox score 1 in the 1st inning, 5 in the 2nd and 4 in the 3rd - making the score 10-1 by the bottom of the 3rd. Yay for us!! (But ouch for the Clippers...The pain. The pain.)

As the PawSox are driving in their 8th run, I turn to Chris and say, "This pitcher is sinking faster than the Titanic!" which earns me a tiny grin from my husband. "I can't believe that the Clippers aren't warming up another pitcher!"

"Maybe," replies Chris, "this pitcher did something really horrible to the coach and the coach is just leaving out there to suffer."

"Must have been something really egregious."

The Clippers rally back in the 4th to score another 3 runs. Yikes.

The 5th and 6th innings are scoreless. Chris takes a little snooze. All of the aggravation of the day has melted away leaving him suddenly relaxed and sleepy.

It's during the bottom of the 4th inning and top of the 5th that I become distracted from the game.

Sitting in front of us are a father, his teenage son and his very young son of 3 years old. I want to ask the dad if his youngest is adopted...mainly because the youngest, unlike his fair-skinned, brown-haired and blue-eyed father and brother, has jet black hair and very dark tan skin. The little boy resembles my adopted sister-in-law S who is from Ecuador.

He is adorable.

I am extremely tempted to tap the father on the shoulder and ask the question, "Is your little boy adopted?" As a prospective adoptive parent, of course I'd love to have this conversation, but I do not because it would be rude and intrusive to ask at this time. These folks are out to have a fun evening together as a family, not to answer my questions about their experience with adoption. So, instead, I rein in my curiosity to let them enjoy the game.

The little boy (whose name is coincidentally Chris) turns around at the bottom of the 4th inning to discover that I am directly behind him. At first he is quite shy. I smile at him, which causes him to quickly turn around in apparent embarrassment at my attention. But he is curious and eventually turns around to look at me again.

And again.

And again.

By the bottom of the 5th we are making faces at one another and he is laughing hysterically. He thinks it's especially hilarious when I open my mouth wide and stick my tongue out or when I scrunch up my nose and make my front teeth stick out like a woodchuck. Peals of laughter.

I laugh, too, at his enjoyment.

My buddy.

I lose track of the game for a while as Little Chris and I entertain each other. My Chris wakes every now and then from his dozing to watch Little Chris and I in our face-making games. My Chris chuckles and smiles.

"When we have our kid," I say quietly to My Chris, "we're going to be hoping and praying that there's someone just like me in the stands right behind us entertaining our kid when we want to pay attention to the game."

My Chris laughs.

The top of the seventh brings two more runs for the Clippers. Suddenly it's 10-6 and I need to pay attention.

Still, it's hard to pay attention with such a super-cute kid in front of me smiling and giggling and wanting to continue our games.

The Clippers' two runs brings my Chris fully out of his dozing. The game is getting serious.

The bottom of the 7th inning sees my buddy, Little Chris, and his dad and brother leave the stadium, along with quite a few other fans who want to beat the traffic and crowds.

Now I can focus on the game.

But I find myself having something of a moment and my attention is still not on the game. Little Chris and his family are gone. My Chris ventures out to the concession stands to buy us some ice cream. He's awake, but in need of a little sugar boost (and I am, of course, not one to turn down ice cream...)

As I am sitting by myself, it hits me that Chris and I will be taking our Little One to PawSox games soon. I briefly imagine our first game with the Little One next summer - he or she will no doubt be in some kind of baby sling contraption and much too young even remember the experience, but we'll take photos and we'll remember this "first."

"Do you remember the first time we took the Little One to the PawSox game and she slept through the first four innings, but then she woke up and started crying and barfing during the fifth when the PawSox were starting to rally?" we'll ask each other when the Little One is five and sitting through his or her umpteenth PawSox game with us.

And there will be so many other firsts - the first time we all decorate the Christmas tree together, first days of school, the first time he or she puts on a baseball glove (we hope!)

I find a few tears sliding down my cheeks as these thoughts pass through my mind. It will not do to be weeping at a PawSox game so I wipe them away and smile as I see my Chris returning with our ice cream.

The evening continues to be perfect. Sunset and the breeze.



The 8th inning sees 3 runs each for the PawSox and the Clippers. What a crazy game! The Yankees fan behind us is getting pretty excited that his team might still be able to pull off a victory.

No such luck.

The top of the 9th finds the Clippers with 2 more runs - not a happy development for PawSox fans, but a pitching change by the PawSox ends the Clippers hopes for a win. Final score: Clippers 11. PawSox 13. Each team has 17 hits, but only the PawSox convert enough hits to runs to win.

Heckuva game.

A great evening.

We exit the ball park talking about the game.

I say to Chris, "I really hope that our kid likes baseball."

He replies, "We'll indoctrinate the kid early."

Sounds like a plan.

1 comment:

  1. Early indoctrination has been shown to work, at least in exposure to theatre. My parents took me and my brother and sisters to lots of local plays as well as to the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival almost every summer during our childhood and youth. The result? We all love theatre. So much so that my brother and his young daughter joined me and my wife at the Ashland, Oregon's rockin' Shakespeare Festival this summer (and we're already planning for next year). So I say - indoctrinate away! Even if your child doesn't become a huge fan there will be lots of really fun memories as a family.