Wednesday, April 30, 2014

3. Baseball

America's favorite pastime.

Football and baseball are really big in my household, currently and while growing up. I remember watching the Cleveland Indians' 1997 heartbreak along with my Grandpa Bays. I'm still heartbroken. But we watched faithfully. Together. Together faithful. Together heartbroken. And so on it went. Ahhh, baseball.

Some of my family members have fond[er] memories. They're devoted Cincinnati Reds fans. Daddy and my brother are among these happy supporters. It can get tense during the multiple "Battle of Ohios" we experience throughout the season (and football season as well don't forget!). It's fun, competitive, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Unlike football, where our family roots for numerous teams, when baseball season rolls around, we're Ohio faithfuls. FYI, for your own safety do not bring up Pete Rose...just don't. Avoid the name unless you're of the Yes-to-Cooperstown! crowd.

Anyhoo, my family loves this sport. Daddy grew up playing catcher and heading to state. My brother and I played (yes, softball falls under this umbrella). Mama and many cousins played softball and baseball. Daddy and Mama coached pee-wee girls softball in my hometown for a season or two. I was part of my small town's first middle school-aged softball leagues. We won the very first game, and remained undefeated for three years, thank you very much. Go Red Team!

I think I was 10 here and ready to get my ball on.
Mr. B is very much a fan of the sport. He almost attended Arizona State on a nice baseball scholarship. Did I mention we love baseball? We try to attend as many games as possible each season. Unfortunately, our alternating schedules don't really allow for this so we aim for four to five games a season. We enjoy attending games as a family, both in Cleveland and Cincinnati. And, of course, don't forget the farm teams!

What I love most about baseball season are the sounds and smells that go along with it. Hitting up the batting cages. The sound of the ball against the glove. LOVE it. Pop-ups in the backyard until you can't possibly throw anymore because your arm hurts and you're running out of daylight. The sound of the cleats as you walk down the hallway. The seventh inning stretch. If you've never experienced a professional ball game, please, please add it to your bucket list. There's nothing like it. And you'll have quite the memorable experience.

Speaking of...we've had quite the memorable experiences.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane. When I was younger, Daddy created round bases out of wood so we could play baseball in the open field behind my grandparent's house. Every summer the whole family (cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and a few neighbors) would get together to play a huge game. I remember one year Grandma was up, using a 2x4 as a bat. She ended up easily making it to second base, mainly because I think my Uncle Rick was a little scared to throw out Grandma. It was quite amusing watching Grandma run the bases barefoot with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Oh, good times.

My Aunt Joann took me to my first professional ball game the summer before I started college. At an Indians game, we were chit-chatting and not paying attention when we heard the bat. If you know baseball, you know what I mean. It made the kind of sound you know ball and bat just connected and it's flying OUT OF HERE. Foul or fair. We were on the first baseline and all I remember is my aunt hollering "Oh no!" We both jumped out of our seats (of course, not quite as gracefully as we could have) to duck in the aisle as we watched the ball pretty much line-drive an older woman a couple rows back. We didn't need to get out of the way. We were safe but, you know, more than happy to entertain the fans around us. Oh, good times.

Walk-offs. Grand slams. Pie-in-the-face celebrations. Fireworks. Bobble head nights.

I have quite the collection.

Another fun story. Mama, I know you know what's coming. I apologize, but I have to. The parents, aunt, and me made our way to an Indians-Reds game in Cincinnati five to six summers back. Mama isn't the huge baseball fan the rest of us are. Mama finds it boring [big gasp]. Mama, and I have to clarify, had stayed up pretty late with my grandma for a chemo treatment the night before. We had seats a few rows back from the third baseline and Mama kept dozing off. The rest of us thought it was funny to yell "foul ball!" and watch her jump up and try to get out of the way. The first two times were hilarious. Then it, umm, wasn't funny anymore. Yeah. Mama was not a fan of our little joke. :)

Yes, very good times. Two-hour rain delays. Snow. Bugs. Extra innings. Camaraderie amongst fans. Booing the Yankees. Cheering favorite returning players. Booing a stalling pitcher. "Hang On Sloopy" in the eighth. OH-IO.

Baseball is where many a Father's Day has been celebrated.

Many an anniversary or a birthday.

It's tradition for us to stop at Steak 'n' Shake as we make our way home. Because stadium prices tend to be ridiculous, very seldom do we actually eat at the ballpark. If we do, it's usually because it's Dollar Dog Night. I look forward to my milkshake whether we win or lose. Yes, I am always a winner.

And I'm in dire need of these.


With Love and God Bless,

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