Baseball

Joy on Jumbotrons

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.

 

 

 

 

She Shouted Three Words

We took the elevator to our seats last night. They checked our tickets and stamped our wrists. Through the doors and to the left, plush purple carpet embraced my dirty sandals. “Welcome”, the door said, “to Club level.”

There was never carpet at the baseball games of my childhood.

We were granted this treat thanks to generous employers who shared their tickets with us!

A kind gentleman held the door for us as we juggled hot dogs and beer to our cushioned seats.

We settled in, three innings late, tending to the suds sloshing over our plastic cups onto cement. I was halfway through my meal when it started.

Two rows up a woman was chanting.

Loudly. Three words. Over and over again.

Let’s Go Mets. Let’s Go Mets.

It got louder.

Let’s Go Mets.  Let’s Go Mets. Let’s Go Mets.

Her beat relentless.

Let’s Go Mets. Let’s Go Mets.

Cheering at a stadium? No problem.

Except, we weren’t at the Met’s stadium. That was not our team.

At first some people laughed at how boisterous this woman was.

Rich people glared, turning their necks up to see who was causing such a disturbance.

She persisted.

Ushers were called over by folks who were annoyed by her enthusiasm. 

“I believe in YOUUU baby!” she screamed, her Jersey accent carrying the words down to home plate.

Inning after inning, this lady wouldn’t let up.

It pissed people off. Boy did it piss people off.

I was annoyed at first, and then my annoyance turned to something else. Respect maybe?

This lady was screaming her truth. Her passion for baseball, enthusiasm for being in a crowd, using her voice. I mean yes, it was annoying as hell, but also – Wow.

She was into this. She wasn’t hurting anyone. And she did not let the glares of privileged people stop her.

I don’t know how she ended up in our section, or why she traveled from New Jersey to cheer in the Mile High City, but she did.

Loudly.

We wanted to shush her. She refused. The ushers politely explained that unless she becomes belligerent, starts swearing, or threatening others, guests (yes guests) are allowed to cheer as loudly as they want.

“We’re in a stadium for God’s sakes,” she cackled ” If I wanted to be quiet I woulda stayed home.”

scream

What if we all refused to shush?

Some things are worth repeating loudly, over and over. You believe your message matters.

I’m more of a quiet gal myself – you know my tagline – hope on whispers. Quiet, gentle whispers. Eeesh please don’t look at me.

I could never stand there and scream, “But the World has SO MUCH TO OFFER! Why do we have to be so cruel? Why can’t we just look for God’s gifts? The beautiful things? The food in your belly. The slobbery kisses your children leave? The feeling of dirt on your toes from your own soil? A blessing of a pillow at night?

I could never stand and yell – YOU PEOPLE DON’T GET JUST HOW GOOD WE HAVE IT? HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS GORGEOUS, MAGICAL WORLD IS. YOU’RE LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACES. MAYBE HURTING PEOPLE ALONG THE WAY!

No.

I’m more quiet.

So I write. In all capital letters.

After the 9th inning when our team won, she gathered her belongings and yelled, “Don’t worry, I’ll see you in Miami next week!” right at the field.

Devotion. Loyalty. Voice.

We drove home and bitched about her persistence but as I was laying in bed, ears ringing with her screams, I couldn’t help but think, what am I willing to shout?

She shouted.

In passionate cases, one carrying voice can be a beautiful thing.