Monday, May 07, 2007

Take Me Out

Sunday afternoon, the kids and I took in a ballgame. Smugtown lost 4-2, in a game they could have won. With one out at the top of the ninth, the second batter got on base with a beautifully executed drag bunt. The next batter popped out to short, but the fourth batter of the inning lined a double into the left field corner, scoring the runner from first...

Waitaminnit. The runners on third? Speedy little sucker who can get on base with a drag bunt doesn't score on a double?

Turns out he was watching the ball. What the fuck? With two outs you run on contact. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and only down by two you run like hell. Even my son knows that. I guess that's why he's in Smugtown, and not in The Show.

So the next guy up--a 6'3" monster of a first baseman, with arms the size of...well, really big arms--grounds weakly to second. Just like he did the previous three at-bats. Game over.

Despite the loss, it was a good afternoon. Any afternoon at the ballpark is a good one. We had hot dogs. We had big salty pretzels. We drank lemonade (them) and Canadian beer (me). They had Dippin' Dots. And we sat right behind home plate for the first five innings, then we sat up high behind third base to try and catch a foul for two innings, then we sat down on a patch of grass that runs right down to the foul line along third base (with, of course, a fence separating the two areas) for the last two. The park in Smugtown is especially nice--it's consistently listed as one of the best places to take in a game. It's also eleven years old, which is the same age as my son, although his ties to baseball predate his birth.

I sing to my kids. I always have. In fact, I sang to them in utero. I chose a song for them, and sang it to my wife's belly every night. My daughter's song was You Are My Sunshine.

My son's song was Take Me Out to the Ballgame. And in case you're wondering, I picked both songs without knowing their gender.*

True Story: My son showed his independent streak from the moment he came out. He pushed his shoulders back, and arched his little back, and made sure the world knew he was there. I knew this, of course, because I was in the room at the time. I was told I could sit next to my wife, but that was it. No moving around The anaesthesiologist, who had his own theories about childbirthing, told me before we went in that I should ignore that, and go and talk to my baby when it was under the heat lamp, before they smeared erythromycn in his or her eyes.

So I did. I said hello to him, told him who I was, told him who he was, and told him I would fight bears for him. And I sang.

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
I don't care if I never get back
For it's root, root root for the Pirates**
If they don't win it's a shame
For it's one, two three strikes you're out
At the old ball game!

And my son, my beautiful son, stopped crying and looked at me. It was a connection that will never, ever leave me. Then they smeared erythromycin in his eyes, and whisked him away where he cried some more, and shortly took a shit on his pediatrician.

And I continued to sing it to him. When I changed his diaper. While I bathed him. When I fed him, rocked him to sleep or just held him, I would sing it to him.

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the crowd...

My son was born in February. In August, we took him to his first baseball game. He was bright eyed and happy, enjoying the evening, and the attention of the folks around him, and even parts of the game. He loved the sound of the crack of the bat.

And in the seventh inning, all nine thousand-plus fans*** in the ballpark stood up and sang:
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the crowd...
And my son stopped, and looked around, at everybody in the stadium singing his song with awe and wonder, and when they were done, he clapped. Because they did a good job of it.

And yes, every game we go to--especially at our lovely little stadium--we tell each other the story about the crowd singing to my son.

So it was a good day at the ballpark.

Unfortunately, on the way home, the brakes on my van failed.

But that's another story.


*Which was intentional. Both births were planned C-sections--for some reason, STBEW never dilated. So we figured since we knew pretty much to the minute when they were going to be born, we should keep some mystery to the process.

**Who else? Seriously, they've been my team all my life. It's just a coincidence. By the way, my son's a Yankee fan.

***Which is pretty darn good for a Triple-A team, attendance-wise.


Blogger terry said...

okay, that made me cry.

maybe it's the PMS, but i don't think so.

what a sweet story.

1:32 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

That's so cool. I love stories like that, and you seem to have an incredible relationship with your kids. I love to see fathers bond so much!

We took my son in utero to all kinds of concerts, and Fern sang to him a lot. We purposely listened o music LOUDLY in the car. I often sat in the studio while Fern played. J seems enthralled by all kinds of music and has alread picked up a drum stick. It's usually in his mouth, but he bangs with it. He likes to ride the bass drum, but his favorite is the snare. Did I mention that Fern's a drummer? Anytime he hears drums he gets really excited, and says, "Dada?"

10:35 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Take me out is also a damn fine song by a UK band called Franz Ferdinand...

3:22 PM  
Blogger Guy Wonders said...

Nicely written. You've got rhythm, man.

I'll take a Triple A level game in any sport for pure entertainment value, in comparison to your average big-league offering. Moving around to watch from different vantage points (or to improve your ball-snagging chances) is always fun, too. . . .

7:57 PM  
Blogger cadbury_vw said...

i'm going to have to wait awhile to compose a comment to your poignant story

this is day two, and i still cannot describe fully the feelings your story evoked

12:55 PM  

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