It starts every spring in the USA. No, I’m not talking about how the porches and windshields and gutters fill up with pollen or that once again it’s time to start mowing the grass every week.
It’s all about B A S E B A L L and “the boys of spring” are out in full force. Early in the year you could find teams practicing in ball fields all across Florida (and Jan reminded me that there are some in Arizona too!) during spring training. Now it’s May and the training is over and all those players are filling up stadiums throughout the country.
I’ve always loved baseball. I remember going with my Dad to the old concrete stadium in the small central Florida town where I grew up. Baseball was a pretty big sport way back when. Our high school had a great team most every year so that added to the fun. There were always lots of peanut shells scattered underfoot and the smell of cotton candy and hot dogs hovered in the air. I loved hearing the crack of the bat when a good hit was made and all the groans when the umpire made a call against our team.
My aunt and uncle lived in Ft. Pierce and one year we got to go see the Pittsburgh Pirates. I can still see that big wooden stadium in Ft. Pierce, the lights shining out over the large expanse of green grass. I thought I was pretty grown up being allowed to stay up so far past my bedtime. I don’t remember one thing about the practice game but I do remember walking across the grass holding my dad’s hand looking up at the lights.
Last night we went down to the big new stadium just opened in downtown Charlotte. It’s quite a sight and so very different than ball fields that I remember. The first thing that struck me was that the only nets to catch stray balls are on the roof of the stadium! When did they stop having the spectators protected from the balls going 85 miles per hour? And home run balls don’t have to go over the fence anymore – they just have to hit the back walls at a certain height. Yes, it’s been a long long time since I’ve actually attended a game other than T-ball!
It was interesting to watch the players warming up. One player was doing some sort of exercise that looked like dancing; another was pitching balls that had to be close to 90 mph by the smack of it hitting the glove. Another had a personal trainer working with him. The trainer was moving the player’s legs into splits and into such extreme contortions that it was painful to watch!
Speaking of watching … it was fascinating to just sit and people watch! Most everyone was eating something… and the variety goes way beyond peanuts and crackerjacks. The standard fare of hot dogs and corn dogs is now supplemented with N.C. BBQ, big Philly cheesesteaks loaded with onions, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, pizza and nachos plus all sorts of local brews to drink.
But back to the people watching. A couple of guys came in and sat down in front of us and it was all I could do to refrain from asking one of them to explain all the drawings on his arms and legs. There was a huge pirate ship and then the coastline of North Carolina was inked out in bright blue with a dark indigo line cutting through the Pamlico Sound. Maybe he was part of the crew that discovered the wreck of Blackbeard’s “Queen Anne’s Revenge” off the coast near Beaufort. Watch this really cool video about that discovery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJfU_bplRJU
On his legs were anatomically correct mermaids with frog heads (what’s with that?) and a very large Betty Boop head with lots of feathers. I know that there must have been a story behind each tattoo but just didn’t have the courage to ask. But if we ever get those tickets again – I will!
I heard an announcement on the radio the other day and they were talking about coming up with new lyrics for the old favorite “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” The Florence Freedom stadium in Kentucky has elected to stop selling peanuts and crackerjacks because of the many people who have peanut allergies. Just being around the discarded cracked peanut shells can trigger an allergic reaction because the protein becomes airborne and can be breathed in. But now there’s a problem: the band that plays at the Kentucky stadium will have to come up with some different words because that’s the song they always play during the 7th inning stretch! Pretty sure that “buy me some tofu and brown rice cakes” will never give the same feeling but if it allows a lot more people to attend and not be afraid – well then, it will be worth it. I can live without the peanuts, just don’t make me eat those little dots they’re calling ice cream!
Happy memory making,
Paper: Baseball Digital Additions, Recipe Book Digital Kit
Embellishments: Baseball DA
Fonts: Holidazzle Alphaset, Komika Text