I grew up with two parents who were not really big sports fans. My parents both grew up in Brooklyn and my dad was able to go to Brooklyn Dodgers games when he was a boy through the Boys Club down at the Naval Yard in Brooklyn. Once the Dodgers moved away though, he didn’t really stay connected to baseball. Even with this connection, he never really embraced sports or had any real enthusiasm for them. Because of this lack of enthusiasm, I did not attend my first professional sporting event until later on during high school when I went to see a Mets game with some friends.
Somewhere along the way, I embraced baseball, like so many other young boys. I didn’t play for more than a few years growing up, but I collected trading cards and began learning the names of the players. Although I was born in Brooklyn and started out as a Yankees fan in the late 70s, I migrated over to become a Red Sox fan somewhere in the 80s. That migration changed me around and I fell in love with the game even more once I began going to Fenway Park in Boston.
I never knew what I was missing until I started experiencing all of this for myself. And to think, some of my friends had been experiencing this from the time that they were really young. They had been to Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, and probably so many other ballparks. They had eaten the peanuts and popcorn, they had drank the soda, they had the ice cream in plastic baseball helmets, they had brought their glove and caught foul balls. Me, I hadn’t done any of that.
So, when it was my turn to pass on the Great American Pastime to my kids, I would seize the opportunity.
We have a minor league ball team, so this past weekend, it was time for our family to experience what I had never experienced as a kid. That’s just what we did, on a beautiful Memorial Day, we took time as a family to take in a game, to eat hot dogs, to drink soda, to bake in the sun, and to embrace this game that had hooked so many before us.
With a 7 year old, 5 year old, and 2 year old, we made it to the Seventh Inning Stretch. We sang “Take Me Out to the Ballpark” and then we left. I hope that it’s just the beginning of something…..you know, like Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
I can’t wait to get back to the ballpark and experience it all over again…..in a way that I never had before.