Sunday, August 05, 2012

Take Me Out To The Ballgame.


When I was a much younger man, I used to drag C. and our then infant daughter E. all over the Western United States on weekends.

Ostensibly, these were trips to see the sights in our then adopted homeland.

But, truth be told, mostly they were just an excuse for me to indulge my penchant for going to baseball games.

Preferably baseball games in the smallest, most crazy-and-mixed up ballparks possible.

Where just about anything could happen.

Like walking out of the tunnel in San Jose to hear the crack of the bat, the hollering of the folks next to me, and then looking up to see a foul ball coming right towards baby E. and me which we caught to the roar of the crowd (and the dismay of C.).

Or seeing a gaggle of young kids win 'the best seat in the house' promotion in Salinas which meant they got to take turns reclining in a LazyBoy directly behind home plate for three hours while they ate more ice cream, hot dogs, and fizzy drinks than humanly possible.

Or having a teething E. put herself to sleep out in the pasture that was then the left field bullpen in Visalia while she gnawed on that day's give away - a black bat that both our kids subsequently used as they grew up and that I still have hidden away somewhere in the garage.


Unfortunately, a lot of that crazy-mixed uppedness is all gone now.

Because, a victim of its own success, minor league baseball has become a quasi-big, wholly-corporate business.

Case-in-point, the lowest of the low (not-even-quite) single A ball in Vancouver is now played on 'Scotia Bank Field' at Nat Bailey Stadium.

But that doesn't mean you can't still find stuff on the fringes if you look for it.

And this summer we did.

Find it, I mean.

On a road trip to San Francisco.

In Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Which was only a couple of hundred miles out of our way.

And it took place on Independence Day, July 4th.

Which meant we had to hustle in from Ashland where we watched Macbeth the night before, because  the game was weirdly scheduled late in the afternoon to miss the worst of the heat and still make it possible for the good people of Klamath Falls to get to the fireworks show on time later that evening.

The best part was that it cost us only 2 bucks each to get into old, wooden Kiger Stadium.  The baseball, of the summer college league variety, was not very good, but the game was, with the home team coming back, big, in the late innings to win.

And I'd like to think that my wife and my two kids -  Bigger E., who is now 19, and littler e., who is now 13, had as much fun as I did.

But even if they didn't, I've since come to realize that it says a lot about the lot of them that they were willing to go so far out of our way to take a chance on a silly side-trip that meant one less day in the Bay Area and all that we love to do down there.

For no real good reason at all.


Having said all this, please don't get me wrong.

Because, even now, I still enjoy going to minor-league ballgames.


Because crazy stuff can still break occasionally in spite of the pre-packaged, cookie-cuttered, button-downed, khaki-shortedness of the thing.

Stuff like the following wherein the umpire throws not the home team's manager, but instead the PA guy, out of the ballpark for playing, are you ready for this....

'Three Blind Mice.


The image at the top of the post was taken awhile ago on the backside of  MLKing Junior High in Berkeley California....When this was taken Bigger E. had already outgrown the black bat from Visalia...And no, littler e. has not yet been asked to pitch for Buttermaker in 'Bad News Bears Three' which is, most definitely, a tapestry of justice...


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