Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Farm Teams, Minors, and Independent Leagues Offer Summer Fun
When I was growing up, I loved the nights when our family went to see the Evansville Triplets play. After those magic years of sitting in Dad's employer's box seats behind the dugout, I was sad to see the team leave town and the beautiful historic ball field fall dark on summer nights. My baseball glove (autographed by my favorite player Mark Fidrych) became a permanent resident of the hall closet, and thus ended my brief infatuation with baseball.
Twenty plus years later while I was pregnant with Ranger, my dear college friend and her baseball-loving family came to visit. Partially motivated by nostalgia, I planned a night at the Evansville Otters so my friend's husband could visit one of the locations from A League of Their Own.
While I spent most of that evening talking with my friend, the mesmerizing effect the game had on her children (and our spouses) was undeniable. The allure of ballpark hot dogs and CrackerJacks were irresistible, and, like the ticket prices, everything was pretty reasonably priced. The boys were most delighted to get on the field and run the bases after the game.
Almost three years after our friends' visit, we regularly head to the ball park on hot summer nights to cheer for the local team and soak up the Norman Rockwell ambiance. Ranger has loved baseball since his first visit, so much that Jim is actually learning the rules of the game after 30+ years of sheer indifference. Ranger loves watching the action on the field and reading numbers off the scoreboard to us.
I can't say that I watch that much baseball at the games; I'm more of a people watcher, so the crowds have more allure.
Between innings local businesses sponsor strange audience participation games (inflatable sumo wrestling and hula hoop tosses), so there's plenty to see even if you don't watch one minute of the actual game.
Ranger's grandparents often join us at games. My parents both have a love for sports that entirely skipped my brother and I, so I know they find in kinship in the next generation's sports enthusiasm.
So, even if you don't like baseball, it may be worth looking into affordable sports tickets in your area. It's funny how kids can help you appreciate something you've unknowingly been missing.
Our friends are coming back to town next week, and we're planning another night with the Otters. They'll get to see our favorite new inning switch game ("Pluck the Polyp," a tong and bucket game sponsored by a local colo-rectal practice).
This time an almost 3-year-old Ranger will get to the run the bases for the first time ever. I suspect it will be worth every minute of those 7 long innings to see the smile on his face.