“This is baseball”

Logo taken from Google Images

It is a famous phrase that I have learned to love since I was 11 years old.  It all started when I attended my first official baseball game in Louisville, Kentucky.  Sure, at the time, I had been introduced to baseball before then (my grandmother was an avid Atlanta Braves fan ever since I was a kid), but this was my first in-person game to attend.

The Monkees
Cover of The Monkees

It was the hottest day of the year, but that was after the fact my parents had bought tickets to the game.  My parents, who absolutely love attending most concerts, wanted to see The Monkees perform after the game. They purchased the tickets a week in advance—this meant we were set in stone to go.

When we arrived at Cardinal Stadium, I remember the hustle and bustle of the crowds looming amongst the park, smelling the air with scents of fresh hotdogs, and seeing red everywhere we went (the team was the Louisville Redbirds in 1997, affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals).  Of course we were there just to see The Monkees, who wouldn’t appear until post-game, but my father thought it was a good idea to experience the game beforehand.  It wasn’t until we sat in our seats that we started to feel the heat come over us.  People were buying water and sodas two at a time; my Lemon Chiller melted before I even got to the bottom of it.  I looked at my mother, and she was creating fans out of our game programs.

I said to my father, “Why are we sitting out here again?”  He looked at me and raised his eyebrows. “Are you not having fun?  The Monkees will be out before long.  And just think, this is your first real baseball experience.  Yeah, it’s hot, but people are still here to cheer on the Redbirds. This is baseball.”

At the time, I had no idea what he really meant by ‘this is baseball’, I just knew I was ready to get some cold air and out of the 100+ degree heat.  As I have gotten older, I know exactly what he means.

AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City's Bri...
Image via Wikipedia

This past year, I had the pleasure of working for the Oklahoma City RedHawks.  Day in and day out, I breathed and lived baseball.  I worked as an Account Executive, and I loved my job.  I cannot even explain the delight I felt every time I walked the quarter of a mile past the field to my office behind home plate.  However, I began right before the season started, so the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark seemed dead and like a ghost town most days.

At the time, they were the Triple-A affiliate for the Texas Rangers, which has been my favorite team since moving to Oklahoma many years ago.  I was waiting for opening day to come so I could see Texas’ expanded roster players, such as Derek Holland, Chris Davis, and Matt Treanor (they had become some favorites to join the 2009 Texas Rangers’ active roster).

Then, the day had finally arrived. April 8, 2010, a day most Oklahoma City baseball fans were looking forward to attending.  It was a sight to see so many people in what used to be an empty space in the middle of Bricktown.  The ballpark became alive again, and you could feel the excitement from everyone that baseball season had finally begun.  Though, it lasted for about 9 innings, and then our RedHawks were tied with the Albuquerque Isotopes.  It went on until the 13th inning, where the game ended after the Isotopes homered for the win.  Losing?  On opening day, on the home field?  Like most of the fans, I couldn’t believe what happened during our first baseball game of the season. But, we all reminded ourselves: This is baseball.

Because of baseball, the fans will last through the hottest days; spend the extra money to stay hydrated; and make paper fans or grab their Popsicle stick with the cardboard to stay even a little cool. And what for? For the love of the game. It is to see Nolan Ryan’s 7th no-hitter; to be there for Will Ferrell’s unexpected comedic performance on the Round Rock mound; to spend time with your ballpark family (only for those true fans of baseball know what I mean—those people that become fellow bleacher creatures you converse about last night’s scoreboard, as well as everything else). It is for the guys who put their blood, sweat, tears, and all-out effort on the field. It is for true love of the sport.  For those who get what I am saying, you should now understand when my father said, “This is baseball.”

We never know which way our game is going to go. We never know who will be called up to the Show the next day.  At least in Oklahoma and Texas, we never know whether the weather will cooperate (but we can almost always count on it being hot).

No matter what, as I have developed my love for baseball since that game at Cardinal Stadium, you can count on me being in the stands at almost any ballpark.  The AT&T Bricktown Ballpark became a second home for me this summer; Rangers Ballpark in Arlington became my sanctuary.  My love for hearing the crack of the bats, the cheer of the crowd, the sound of the ball hitting the glove, conversing with my “ballpark family” and getting nods and acknowledgment from team managers and players. Overall, the best feeling is the sensation of being part of something bigger than just myself — none of it can begin to describe how I feel about baseball.  When asked to describe all the pieces of why I have such a passion for the sport, I can always answer it just the same:  This is baseball… and nothing can change that.

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