To Every Game There Is a Season
Hard to believe...Summer is coming to an end tonight, and Fall starts on Saturday. No...not on the calendar. I'm speaking of the wonderful World of Sports.
We just got home from our final Greensboro Grasshoppers (Single A-minor league team in the Florida Marlins system) game of the 2013 season. It's the last home stand against the Hickory Crawdads (gotta love minor league baseball teams' names...:-), Thirsty Thursday with $1 beverages, and fireworks! A triple play!! Since the Hoppers are 10.5 games back, any hopes for the Playoffs this year are just a field of so many dreams. Ah well...play ball!
Funny aside from the Hoppers game tonight: while Mr. T was foraging for food and beverages, I'm clapping, hollering, cheering...and generally having the usual good time. A Crawdad hits a pitch down the first base line, and the man sitting next to me turns to his wife, claps and says "it's a foul ball." About that same moment, I see the first/second base ump (it's minor league, remember...only two umps for four bases...:-) give the sign, and I said "no, it's a fair ball." A few minutes and several plays later, Man says "You're really into this, aren't you? Have you always enjoyed baseball?"
Lord have mercy, if he only knew...
I think I may have shared with you before about me and my love-hate relationship with baseball. My grandfather Keaton...known to me as Papaw...played catcher on a semi-pro baseball team in Tennessee, back in the early 1910's, and he was always a keen Yankees fan. Daddy was Dixie Youth Baseball commissioner for Ripley, and my younger brother played every level of Dixie Youth (Little League through Senior) baseball there was...and got a baseball scholarship to college. From the time J could swing a bat and wear a glove, we were at the ball park every Summer week night. To keep my level of boredom in check, I helped out in the concession stand...I bet I can still make a mean Suicide (a horrible drink that is a mixture of several fountain beverages)!
And if we weren't going to local Little League games or tournaments, we were shaping our vacations around baseball season...and going to major league games. Local-boy-makes-good Jim Hickman from Henning was an original Mets team player, then he played for the Cubs...and he got Daddy tickets for games in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Chicago on several occasions. I vividly remember going to a Braves game that went 17 innings! Is this ever going to end? I always said I didn't like baseball. B-o-r-i-n-g. Do you blame me?
Truthfully, I think I didn't like yielding my life to Dixie Youth baseball...without being able to participate myself. We didn't have softball opportunities like there were later, plus I'm a lousy base runner and weak fielder...no arm strength for throwing. But I guess I learned the mechanics of the game by association and acquired the passion genetically. No one was a bigger Braves fan than my mother! As I've aged, baseball has become like an old family friend...and I've embraced the relationship. I recognize what a big part of my life this game has occupied. Now, I can answer the Man with "yes, I guess I do enjoy it," and mean it.
We won, by the way. Hoppers 4 — Crawdads 3. And the fireworks were fantastic!
We pack our winner-winner-chicken-dinner tailgate basket and head to Durham on Saturday afternoon for our first Duke football game of the season. Kickoff is at 4:00. They offered the Family Plan again this year (4 General Admission tickets to all home games for small bucks), and we love the atmosphere at Wallace Wade Stadium. "What a cute little stadium!" we once heard an Alabama coed exclaim as she walked around the horseshoe to the visitors section. A throwback to days before college football became Big Business. At Duke, basketball is King and the cash-cow, so football can be fun. Easy parking, easy tailgating, easy getting to-and-from our seats...no hassle. Go Devils! (Unless you're playing my Memphis Tigers, like you are on September 7...then I change loyalties, even if I continue to wear the same color blue...:-)
Baseball. Football. Both in the same week. Can basketball season be too far off?