A Ballgame With Dad

            Went to a baseball game the other night. Yep, loaded up in the ‘ole family mobile, and headed up north, up to Indianapolis. Went to the Indians game; had pretty good seats too, Row “S”, seats 12 and 13, behind the Indians dugout. It was the third, and probably the last, baseball game of this year that I’ll be able to go to. It being later on in the year and all. 

            At the last minute, my little fella was unable to go. Sometime 10 year old priorities can change at the drop of a hat, though I really can’t understand what could be more important than a ballgame. So instead of my boy, I took an old friend along to the ballpark. Well, the game started at 5:00 pm, so we left Seymour around 2:30’ish, I really don’t like to be late. No, I like to have plenty of time to mess around, get a bit to eat, find a parking space, and still beat the crowd. That being said, I took a wrong turn off of I-70, and burned up my “messing around time” getting turned back around, and heading in the right direction. Well, I finally got my bearings straight, and found my way to the parking garage. 

            Here we are, walking into Victory Field, and I’m looking around, just kind of taking everything in. We walked in through the center field gate, and out there families are real big. You’ve got you basic family of 4, times 100. And they’re all playing Frisbee, and sharing big Styrofoam plates of hotdogs, and all of this stuff is going on. And that’s great and all, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry. So I just walk on by, besides, my seat is a heck of a lot better than the ones on here. Now I’m walking on towards the grandstands, and I’m here early and everything, and the ground crew is still getting the filed ready for the game. I mean, there’s a lot that goes into that. They have to mow the grass, and rake the dirt, and chalk the baselines, and all of that stuff; and they’re out there, working away. 

            So we get to where the seats are, and sit down. I always like to watch the ground crew working. Most people don’t ever see these guys unless there is a rain delay or something, talk about a thankless job. These guys are out there on the field probably 8 hours before a game starts. They’ve got to mow this whole field, but it’s not mowing like you and I know mowing. Kim is mowing our lawn right now, and she’ll be done in a few minutes. Why? Because she only mows the thing once! These guys are out there, and they mow that grass, something like 3 or 4 separate times. It’s how they get that checker board look. And that’s alright with me, I appreciate it. 

            I’m sitting here, eating a plate of Nachos, and watching these fellas work on their ball field. And I wonder what they’re thinking about while they’re down there, raking and what not. It could be that they’re just itching to get finished up, and head back into the clubhouse, and wait for that first pitch. Man, it would really mess with them if they knew that I am content to watch them, instead of the game.  You might ask, “Watch the groundskeepers, instead of the game”? Doesn’t sound right, does it? But for me, the whole “ball park experience” is a lot more than the first pitch. The first pitch is actually the last thing that there is.
Let me explain.

            It all goes back to that old saying about half the fun is getting there, remember? Well, for me, all the fun is getting there! Once I’m “there”, it’s almost time to get back into the car, and go home. I like the anticipation of things. I enjoy the feeling of “can’t hardly wait”, do you know what I’m saying? 

            Listen, I was completely content to sit in my little seat, eat my Nachos, and watch the guys do their deal. There were a couple pitcher in their respective bullpens, and the rest of the players were still in the dugouts. I was sitting in the shade, underneath the seats above, and sadly, the shade of another impending fall and winter. I was in no hurry for that first pitch.

            After that pitch, just 9 short innings, and then the field crew would come back out, and then it would be time to go home. It would also be time to put the glove away for a while. I have gotten into the habit of carrying my ball glove with me, maybe I expect a foul ball out on the Freeway someday, I don’t know. But it feels nice to have a mitt with you, make you feel like summertime. 

            Well, I sat there for a while, thinking about holding up the ball game, and then looked over to my left. Down a row, and all the way out to the aisle, sat a Dad and his little boy. The old man looked to be in his mid-30’, and his little boy looked like this was his first game. Boy, he was excited. His dad was bouncing the little fella off his knee, pointing out the players and stuff, and they were both having a heck of a time. Made me remember my first ballgame… with my dad- so many years ago! 

            The wonder in that little fella’s eyes – all the other things that were gonna be “firsts”, and man, he just couldn’t wait to get to it. His dad was there, holding him, just holding the little guy up, no matter what. And there they both were, neither one of them could wait for it all to start, just “can’t hardly wait”. And here I was thinking about holding the game up, if I could, and then I was watching them… It only took a second for me to agree. 

            Play ball! 

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