Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer, Baseball and Little Boys

Part of my waxing nostalgic somehow comes back to what I think should be the "real" meaning of summer. I grew up in Southern California where summer days rarely got much into the 90's and kids ran around in bare feet, enjoying popsicles, climbing trees and riding bicycles.

The reality of Texas summers is that it's been at or over 100° nearly every day for the last three months. If you run around barefoot outside you're likely to get serious burns on your feet. If you ride your bike outside the perimeter of our immediate neighborhood you're taking your life in your hands. Popsicles have too much sugar and artificial ingredients for kids these days. The lone tree in our yard wouldn't support the weight of more than the princess.

So, we're left with the last real joy of childhood and summer - baseball.
We're lucky enough to have a minor league team in our city. And it's a minor league team in the best sense - they have fun giveaways, crazy theme nights, snow cones and foot long corn dogs.

The smiling child and the man I married have been going to the games for a few months. They go early so that the smiling child can collect autographs (on baseballs) of all of the players. One of the great things about a minor league team is that they really appreciate the fans. The smiling child knows the names and stats of his favorite players. He watches and cheers for them when they finally get their chance to move up to the big leagues; and he welcomes them back when they return to the minors.

The giveaways this year have been hats, shirts; the usual stuff. Finally there was a giveaway that we (the entire family) couldn't resist - Mr. Potato Head dressed like a baseball player!

We love Mr. Potato Head!! We've got your usual - the mustache, earrings, red nose. We've also got the Disney versions - Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse ear hats, Mickey Mouse ice cream cones, glass slippers. We've got Darth Tater; we're saving our pennies for Indiana Jones Tater. But to get a free minor league tater! Now, that was something worth getting our shoes on for.

So, we bought "berm" seating (sitting on the grass out past the outfield - as Ellen DeGeneres would say - the "riff raff" area). Normal tickets are $12, berm tickets are $6; so the smiling child and the man I married got their usual seats, the rest of us got berm seats (cause Tater Heads are certainly worth $6, but not really worth $12).

We waited, and the day finally arrived. The princess woke up with "today's baseball day" on her mind. We went in two cars because we knew the smiling child would want to stay for the game, but were pretty sure that the rest of the crew would not.
Parking is $5. The man I married paid his fee and drove in. I asked the money taking guy if there was a discount for "wives who are here involuntarily" and he told me that he'd been there, and let me in for free!!! The man I married was amazed and said that it made the tater heads even cheaper. Gotta love that man.

Now, let me say, we were at the ballpark more than 2 hours before the game started. Didn't want to miss out on the tater heads! Luckily they open the gates about two hours before the game, so we only stood outside the gate for about 15 minutes. The smiling child was thrilled! It was the first time he'd been first in line. Also, it was our ticket taker's first day on the job, so the smiling child got to have his ticket scanned early so that the man could learn what to do.

We finally got in, got our tater heads and headed off to the seats. All the princess knew was that she was to learn all the ropes from her older brother. She happily followed along after him as he pointed out all of the rules and interesting sights. All we heard were snippets:

- Don't stand there, you'll get hit by foul balls
- That's where we get popcorn
- Those aren't good seats
- That's where I got my mug

Being a boy, he didn't point out what I wanted to know - where's the bathroom?

After about five minutes sitting in the seats we were glad we'd brought two cars. The princess wanted cotton candy, popcorn and to jump/run up and down the stairs. She was easily placated with a corn dog and some cotton candy to eat at home. The middle child got a corn dog, coke and a snow cone (too sweet - gave it to the princess -- now she's got cotton candy and a snow cone?).

The man I married was happy that we left. The smiling child got a bat from one of the players (which will take up a position of honor in his room), and they caught a shirt from the air cannon shirt throwing machine.

The princess spent a good two hours bouncing off the walls once we got home. The middle child said he'd like to actually stay long enough next time to see some baseball game. I thought it might be okay to stay for the game if I could sit in those rocking chairs in the outfield and knit. The man I married wondered why in the world you'd knit at a baseball game.

Aaaah, the pure joys of summer are alive and well.


quitecontrary1977 said...

i love that you call him "the man i married"! and i can't believ you got in free! I'm having a little bloggy giveaway, btw. you should swing by!

Marilyn said...

Hi Jeannette~Loved your story about the baseball game..... We love going to see the baseball games in Toronto & we go whenever we can..... Two years ago Chavez hit it into left field foul & it came down hitting my back....I leaned forward so it wouldn't hit my head.... Paramedics were called as I thought I was going to pass out with pain... The man behind me grabbed the ball after it bounced off my back & kept it!!! I couldn't move my arm for 2-3 days... No one reached out to catch it as it was coming down so fast.... I love watching the Toronto Blue Jays even tho they are not doing so well even with Cito back..... Marilyn