Every April invariably begins another baseball season, which is the first sign that summer is finally around the bend and old-man winter won’t be trying to make me freeze my guy parts off for at least another seven months. It’s a time of beauty. A time of togetherness; when people young and old can gather around the team and call grown men bums and scream for their release (peace out Brandon Inge… I’m not even crying on the inside).
As fans, we follow every game like it’s the last one we’re every going to see and throw the remote when Papa Grande blows a save or Austin Jackson strikes out with the winning run on second base in the ninth. “You piece of %&#* Jackson… My grandmother could at least make contact and she has been dead since 1993.” That emotional release is necessary to start the healing process and make a quick recovery because the next night we have to do it all over again.
Thinking about the warmth of the summer sun, the beauty of the freshly mowed and watered grass, and the speedo that’s two sizes too small that I will soon wear to a public pool makes me think about some of my favorite baseball memories. I would encourage my hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of readers to share their memories in the comment section.
At seven-years-old I attended my first game at the old Tiger stadium. The Royals were in town and I can distinctly remember walking with my grandmother over one of the bridges that led to the upper deck and having to lead her by the arms because the lower-level concourse was visible below. That’s one of the few games I didn’t save a ticket stub from and can’t remember who won or who pitched but I remember how awesome it felt to boo Gary Gaetti and his dumb no-flap helmet. What was it? The ’50s?
The year was 1998 and I went to Fenway Park with my dad to see the Red Sox take on the Indians. It was the inaugural Wally the bean-bag buddy night; long before the cute little toy became a disgusting ogre with red-hair that ate human flesh beneath the cement of the Green Monster. There was a total of five rain delays lasting more than four hours. The best part of the game was when fans made their way in droves down to the tarp on the infield and slid across with a force that created tsunami-like waves. Who cares how that one ended.
On August 15, 2005 I turned 18-years-old and, instead of going to the strip club for some good, 0ld-fashioned debauchery, I went to the Tigers/Red Sox game at Comerica with a few friends. They gave fake names and got some free t-shirts from the credit-card company giving them out; not bothering to give one to the birthday boy, but I’m not bitter. In the seventh inning two brave men raced down the stairs and vaulted over the railing like two Olympic track stars. As they ripped off their a roar went up from the coliseum-like crowd. Dude number one surrendered fairly quickly and was booed heartily. Man number two made the rounds of the infield and then moved into the outfield where he was eyeballed by Manny Ramirez. He too gave up and was walked in shame, naked, along the third-base line by two stout officers of the law. It didn’t really matter who won the game after that; although, Todd “heart-attack” Jones managed to give up a two-run double to Kevin Youkilis and relinquish a 1-0 lead and lose the Tigs the game. All that mattered to me was the surplus of nudity to help me celebrate my 18 years on Earth.