Yesterday I got to chaperone a school trip to see our minor league ball team, the Sea Dogs, play at Adorable Mini Stadium Within Walking Distance. The Princess and her friend, Ever-So-Smart, used me as their personal chaperone, and we spent what felt like more time going down for snacks or trips to the restroom then watching the game. Between them they consumed:
2 pieces of cheese pizza
One enormous serving of fried dough, with cinnamon
2 Sea Dog Biscuits (aka a Chipwich)
One large order of fries (also shared with various friends)
They were somehow able to walk back to school, nevertheless.
Because fifth grade girls who are not into watching the game are able to amuse themselves with play-by-play on the behavior of fifth grade boys, I was free to watch baseball.
I need to tell you that none of the men in my household cares much about sports, unless it’s the Olympics. But my dad loved to watch sports, and I loved to watch with him. I knew all about basketball, football, golf, tennis and baseball. When I was a little girl, he took me to see the Senators play, and I saw my hero, Frank Howard. My younger brother was something of a Little League star. The coaches drove four hours to his summer camp to bring him back for a playoff game. But after he went back to camp, he discovered lacrosse, and to general disappointment, he gave up baseball.
I loved baseball. And every time I go to Adorable Mini Stadium Within Walking Distance, I remember how it felt.
There’s something hypnotic about it. The ball goes whizzing by, and you try to determine from your odd angle high in the stands why it was a strike and not a ball. You can’t help feeling excited when the batter whacks the ball into the air and it goes up, up, up…and even though you might not want the fielders to do poorly, you sigh a little when they make that easy catch.
Several times during the game, the Sea Dogs managed to get a man or two on base, only to suffer their third out and end the inning. There’s such a loss of momentum. That would drive me crazy. I look at life as one thing building on another, one level being left behind and another being reached. I count the small movements, record the tiny differences. Baseball is about the grand sweep of things. Baseball has the tiny moments, but they may or may not count at all.
I have two colleagues who love going to the games here. They didn’t know each other particularly well, and I mentioned to both of them that they shared an interest. After the next game, one of them said to me he had decided the other guy was okay. Why? Because he, too, was keeping a box score.
Every little thing does count, it seems, but sometimes you can only see how in the greater arc of the season or a career. Sometimes you can only see it in the grander sweep of a life.
As spring becomes summer, and we leave our windows open, we can hear the Star Spangled Banner being sung before each game. We can hear the cheering swell for a home run. Molly runs to hide on the nights they have fireworks. The game feels close enough to touch and smell. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack…