Take Me Out to the Ball Game
All my life I have lived within pitching distance of Fenway Park — well not quite, but never more than twenty miles from the Green Monster. Yet I have never attended a baseball game. The closest I’ve come is viewing an inning or two on TV when the Red Sox have been World Series contenders. Other than that, I’ve had zero interest. The old clichés come to mind — for me it’s like watching grass grow or paint dry. In other words, b-o-r-i-n-g!Here in the heart of Sox country, such a viewpoint is sacrilegious. Whenever I express it, I expect the gods of the outfield to hurl a bolt of lightening at me and strike me dead. So far that hasn’t happened — mainly because they’re too busy trying to catch those fly balls swatted by Yankee hitters.
The older I get, the more concerned my sports fanatic friends have become about my leaving this world with my soul tainted with what they consider an unforgivable sin of omission; i.e., never having root, root, rooted for the home team, in person, at an actual ball park. So to save me from eternal damnation, last week my friend Mike took me to a baseball game — no, not to watch the Sox at Fenway (even my immortal soul isn’t worth those astronomical ticket prices and Boston’s exorbitant parking fees). Instead, we drove to nearby Lowell, Massachusetts (where we found a free parking spot on the street!) to see the Spinners, a minor league Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
After entering the park, we stopped at one of the refreshment stands. “Get anything you want,” said big-spender Mike, “ … except the lobster roll.” He was kidding (at least I think so), but I settled for a hot dog and Coke. When we went to our seats, because of an apparent mix-up at the box office, we found ourselves surrounded on all sides by what we learned was a large family group there to celebrate the birthday of a six-year-old. At first we were annoyed by all the activity — a stadium party organizer blocking our view of the field as she conferred with the birthday boy’s parents, moms passing babies to aunts, toddlers trodding on our toes as they came and went — but it turned out to be a happy fluke. We soon became part of the party (even though we hadn’t brought presents) and were lavished with still more hot dogs, pizza, popcorn and ice cream sandwiches (but, alas, no lobster rolls).
There was even more activity on the field than in the stands at LeLacheur Park. Between innings there was a mini-car race, a BBQ apron give-away, tee shirts catapulted into the crowd and tossed from a truck that circled the field, a chicken dance dance-off, kids running the bases, and more kids racing the Spinners’ three mascots, the Canaligators. (Don’t ask. I have no clue. Lowell does have nearly six miles of man-made canals; but I doubt if any alligators live in them. They’d never survive our northeast winters.)
Meanwhile, in between all these shenanigans, an actual ball game was played. Or so they tell me. I was having too much fun to notice.
I hope it still counts.