Friday, February 29, 2008

Big League - Part 3

Those of you that have read any of my past stories know that once I start I don't always stop when I say I'm going to. So here we are again. I commented that I would post the end of this story today, but after letting my fingers do the walking, I've discovered there is more to write than I first thought.

I have learned my lesson, (I think), I will no longer say, "This will wrap-up on the next post." or any other promise of timely conclusion. I will simply continue to write until my thoughts are all out.

Thank you for allowing me to run off at the finger.

Part 3

As they pulled up, Eric’s nose was practically pressed up against the car window.

Looking at him through the rear view mirror his father said, “What do you think?”

“It didn’t look this big on TV,” was his son’s reply.

Getting to the park this early meant they pretty much had free reign on where they wanted to park, so they opted for a space that was near the stadium, but appeared to be in the vicinity of an exit as well. Having been to other large events before, Roger knew this would be a good strategy for after the game, when the thousands of cars were all trying to leave at once.

As they got ready to head inside Gail searched her purse and did the check off list. Tickets, sun-screen, credit card and cash, cell phone, camera. With a quick glance in the mirror attached to the visor she adjusted the ball cap she was wearing and insured that her make-up was acceptable, then announced, “We’re ready!”

Eric wondered why there were small BBQ’s smoking from the back of pick-ups and people milling about them when all the excitement was inside the stadium. His dad proceeded to explain what a tailgate party was and that for some people, that was just part of the experience. He thought it sounded like fun, but still couldn’t understand why these people were eating out here when they could get a hot dog or popcorn inside.

Just then a teenage boy dashed in front of them, chasing down a ball that his friend several yards away had thrown over his head. They heard, “Sorry!” as he whizzed by them.

After a brief stop at the security and ticket checkpoint, they were on their way inside.

“Now stay close, and don’t wander away from us honey,” Eric’s mother instructed him.

“I won’t,” he replied.

It was a visual bonanza to the young boy as they worked their way through the crowd, past the souvenir shops, concession stands and entrances to the field. Each time they would pass one of the openings to the seating area Eric would slow down to get a look and ask his parents, “Is this the one?”

Every time he asked this question though, he would be greeted with a response from his mother or father saying, “Not yet,” or “A couple more to go.”

Finally when he thought they must have walked to another planet, his dad announced, “This is the one.”

Walking in it was like stepping back into time for Roger. They were on the field level looking at the third base dugout several rows in front of them. He immediately flashed back to the days of his youth when his parents had walked him into the ballpark not too many miles south of where this modern day facility now stood.

He had dreamed of this day for quite some time when he too could have the thrill of watching the expression on his son’s face as he walked into his first game. He and Gail glanced down at Eric and could see he had a smile that stretched from one ear to the other.

The only word that Eric uttered said it all, “Whoa!”

They walked about halfway down the tiered seating, finding the appropriate row and then worked their way in a couple of chairs until they found the three that matched the numbers on their tickets.

“These are the one’s,” Roger said.

As soon as they sat down, Gail reached into her purse and grabbed the sunscreen.

“Before we do anything else,” she said, “let’s get some of this on you,” directing the comment towards Eric.

“Mom, do I haffta?” was his less than enthusiastic response.

“Yes!” she replied, “we aren’t going to have a sunburnt boys on our hands.”

After the three of them had lathered up all of their exposed skin, Roger reached into the windbreaker he was carrying and pulled out a brand new baseball he had brought for his son.

Looking at Eric he said, “What do you say we go down to the field and see if we can get a few signatures on this baby?”

He didn’t have to ask twice. By the time the last word of his sentence left his lips, Eric was on his feet and ready to go.

“Mom, are you coming?” he asked.

“No, you boys go ahead. I think I’ll stay put for now.”

The two of them headed toward the infield fence where a small crowd of eager autograph hunters had assembled.

At this point, the Giants were on the field doing their pre-game warm ups. Some were stretching out mussels in front of their dugout on the first base side while others were sprinting across the outfield loosening up their legs. A handful of players were gathered around the home plate area swinging bats while waiting their turn to hit a few balls.

Some of the visiting Colorado Rockies along with a few of the lesser known Giants players were standing in front of the fans signing autographs on baseballs, caps and programs that were being handed to them.

Eric, along with the help of his dad, was able to get six signatures on his baseball before the two teams had finished up their pre-game activities. Neither Roger nor his son recognized any of the names they had collected, but that didn’t matter to Eric. As far as he was concerned they said something to the equivalent of Babe Ruth or A-Rod.

By the time the two of them returned to their seats, the stadium had begun to fill up. Upon his arrival, Eric proudly displayed his new treasure to his mom, trying his best to decipher the scribbled names that were written on it.

“Wow! How many did you get?” his mom asked.

“We got a bunch mom, and one of the guys even shook my hand!”

She was quite sure it would be some time before her little boy would consent to washing that hand.

Gail leaned over, gave her husband a kiss and whispered, “Thank you,” to him.

Roger smiled and whispered back, “I think I had as much fun as he did.”

The grounds crew had replaced the players on the field and were doing the final preparations for the beginning of the game. It was only about ten minutes until the first pitch now.


to be continued


CrystalChick said...

I'm new to your stories...
this one is definitely enjoyable.
We've taken our son to a couple 'Phillies' games and it's a real treat. Keep writing! And have a nice weekend.

Jeni said...

You can "run off at the finger" anytime and for as long as you want, Jeff! I'm lovin' this story.

Ron said...

Ok, so tell me...did they eventually SELL that ball on Ebay???

And how much did they get???

And good for Gail...SUNSCREEN. She's teaching them at very young age proper skin care!

Can't wait for 4 or 5 or 6...

Enjoy your weekend, bud!

Jahooni said...

i jetted over to read all of this? whew... you have a lot to say.
Let me go read more... ;)~

Mel said...

Take me out to the ballgame
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks
I won't care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root for the hometeam
If they don't win it's a shame....

For it's ONE, TWO, THREE strikes you're out
At the old, ballgame!!!!

EVERYbody sing!!!!!!


Matt-Man said...

Keep it going Jeff...It's a keeper. Cheers!!

buffalodickdy said...

All we have in our town is Class A ball team, The White Caps- but it is a great family friendly ball park with stuff going on between innings, usually for the kids! Detroit Tiger affiliate team...

Jeff B said...

Crystalchick- I'm sure you're creating good memories for your son. Glad your enjoying the story.

Jeni- Thanks for the encouragement.

Ron- A mom's got to do what's right, and the ball is still open for more much would you like to offer?

Jahooni- You were expecting whipped cream covered polar bears perhaps?

Jet back anytime.

Mel- I've realized it's impossible to merely read those words, they must be sung!

Matt- As are you sugar lips.

Buffalo- Nothing wrong about class A games. Lots of fun for everyone at a fraction of the cost of MLB.

kevin wecker said...

Awesome! Keep writing, my friend!

Travis said...

I got a shiver reading that, from my own memories of the first time I walked through a tunnel and saw the deep green grass and the brown dirt. It's magic.

I feel that way every time too.

Dangit...that got me a little choked up.

Jeff B said...

Kevin- Nice to see you again. I shall be checking out your March blog a day bit.

Travis- Photos, TV or stories don't properly do it justice. As you know, it must be experienced first hand to truly appreciate it.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Very well done. It is indeed a treat to get to go to the ball park, but very much so the very first time. You are making this very clear with this young lad. I love the autographs too. On to part III.

Anna said...

So far so good, lol. Moving on....Anna :) PS I am not a baseball fan, but I am very curious what is going to happen.

San said...

That is so special, when a parent is able to re-create a childhood experience for their own child. I loved the moment when Robert watched for the magical reaction on Eric's face.