its a baseball field, and all kinds of stories are painted in colorful strokes on them. its really the only thing i remember about my first professional baseball game. i know that it was three rivers stadium, but i don't know who the pirates played, who won, or even what summer it was. what i do remember is the moment that the cold grey confines of that stadium by the rivers gave way in my little line of sight to a panarama of the greatest and greenest green i had ever seen. i'm not sure what kind of a baseball fan i was at that time, but whatever my affections before that day in the 80's, i am certain what they were after: i was in love.
as with so much childhood magic, this love affair could have easily reached irreconciable differences as i grew up and became a more jaded adult. it wasn't long before i learned that the grass at three rivers wasn't grass at all, but astroturf, like on grandma's porch. fake. i learned that some of the players, who got to play this game nearly everyday of their lives, didn't do it because they loved it but because they loved the money. i learned that they were even willing to go on strike from playing a game because they didn't get paid enough.
that was a dark day for my relationship with baseball. we almost broke up. but at some point i remembered the green. i remembered the joy. i remembered my little sweaty hand inside my george brett-signed glove, hoping that foul ball would come to me - a free baseball! i remembered lying in bed at night, secretly pressing my little hand-held radio against my ear, holding it just right so it would clearly receive the signal from WANB, the local AM station that broadcast pirates games. i remembered saving my coins to run up the corner store for a pack of topps cards and a stick of crumbly pink gum. and i fell in love again. i memorized. i watched. i read. i played.
and the love affair continues to this day. it doesn't really matter who's playing. i love the sport - the numbers, the leather, the crack of the bat, the smell of summer, the stats, the hot dogs, and that green and brown canvas, where the drama of baseball unfolds. i love baseball.
which is why i'm excited today. in about an hour we will be leaving for jackson's first baseball game. actually, he want to a yankees game in 2005, but he was way too little to realize what was happening. here's a picture of him and i at that game in yankee stadium.
tonight's game of the bridgeport bluefish against the somerset patriots will be the first game that he's aware of. and he's excited. he's been learning the words: bat, baseball, mitt, catcher, and "the yankees win!" he throws the ball and yells, "strike!" he's bringing his little glove. and so he's excited. but not nearly as excited as his daddy.