I spent over eight hours at the ball park this weekend. Sitting in the stands as the sun beamed down on my shoulders, memories of ball games past flooded my brain. I’ve been going to the same stadium for over twenty years.
Each summer my family set aside one or two afternoons for a day in Denver. If we got lucky, we ventured out for a night game. I sat in the squeaky green seats watching the sun set over the mountains and only occasionally track the score or notice the activity happening on the actual field. I was often busy people watching. We’d buy ice cream and foam fingers and my brother would convince my dad for just one plastic container of nachos overflowing with gooey fake cheese.
Over the years, my tastes have matured. I’ve gone from asking for Dip-n-Dots and cool lemonades to cold beer and peanuts. My obsession with foot long hot dogs shrank and I now can stomach a mini-one (they still cost over five dollars) without too much pain.
Now, more than ever, I miss my dad in those squeaky seats next to me. We’ve started a tradition and go to a game as a family near his birthday. Our new memories mix with the absence of him and I come home fingering the stitches sewn on my healing heart. Red thread, white skin, circling over and over like a pitcher readying to throw the ball.
Despite my aging, his absence, our new stories, and my awareness of caloric consumption possible in one afternoon as a fan, some things about baseball games never change.
The concrete stairs and metal stands. The smell of onions and spill of mustard on my white t-shirt. The thwack of a ball hitting a bat. The announcers voices, deep and booming. Fountains launching foamy water into the air after a home run. The joy found on the jumbotron.
Spectators of all ages light up when they find themselves on the gigantic screen at the back of the field. Older women with expensive blow-outs nod their heads along to the music. Dads holding babies start dancing and flail their offsprings chubby legs to the beat. Young boys wave their hats. Old men raise their beers to the air and slug their buddy or son sitting next to them. Young women in too-short of shorts flick their hair, kiss their partners, or blush and wave.
Spectators caught on screen may pretend to be embarrassed. Really, they’re delighted. They’ve got their phones out to capture the moment. They tag a friend.
If you’re feeling down, think of all the ball parks all across the country and all the baseball games happening at any given time. Then think about all the people who will be highlighted on those mega-huge screens and all the joy those appearances will create.
Hold that positive energy in your palms. Capture their smiles.
Tuck that beautiful delight into your heart pocket and beam.
It’s not all bad. Think of all the joy found on jumbotrons. It’s a beautiful thing.