Monday, August 15, 2016


Take Me Out To The Ball Game 2016

The refrain from that great song can be heard across North America on most sunny weekend days, throughout the summer.

A couple of weeks ago, Hunter whispered to his grandmother that he would like to go to a Blue Jays game. He gets to go to at least one game a year, and it is an exciting day for him. There are baseball traditions, and he holds steadfast to those traditions.

He loves to sit behind the bullpen. In Toronto, at the Rogers Centre, the bullpens are located behind the outfield fences. He prefers to sit behind the opponents’ bullpen, located behind the right field fence. Another bonus to that seating arrangement is that he can watch Jose Bautista when the Blue Jays are in the field. Yes, that is, unless Jose is in sick bay. He has had difficulties this year, and was not playing the day we went to the game.

I received a note from my friend Eric Chapman after I posted the photograph of Hunter and me, and he reiterated my feelings about taking family to the game. He was at the same game with his son Chris, and grandsons Adanai, Nate and Carter.

There are some baseball traditions not to be trifled with: hot dogs, (at least one jumbo dog, maybe two!), Cracker Jacks, cold beverage, and a keen eye on the catcher in the bullpen. Hunter often is the catcher on his team in Belleville, and he has always enjoyed the bullpen experience. They scurry around when the manager puts the call into the bullpen to get a pitcher ready when necessary.

We both love to hear the smack of the ball into the catcher’s mitt-“The Decker”- when the pitcher begins to throw smoke. He notices the arm movements the pitches uses to indicate to the bullpen catcher that he is throwing pitches that will move to one side or the other at the plate.

Occasionally, he pays attention to the game. He likes to sit in the first couple of rows in section 105 so that he can see the big scoreboard as well. He likes to see the count, and follow each “at bat” carefully. He knows the ebb and flow of the game, and the scoreboard helps to keep the focus. He likes all of the little games played with the fans between the innings, all part of the modern game.

Some of those “new traditions” are barely tolerable, to my eyes. On one occasion, I watched Blue Jay players on the big screen doing lip synching! Likely a stretch for Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle. I can just hear Casey Stengel when he might have been approached with that suggestion. Every player on the Jays comes to the plate, accompanied by his own special song. Casey would have vetoed that as well.

But it is all part of today’s game, and it is enjoyed by the fans. Toronto leads the Major Leagues in attendance, with good reason. They are at the top, or near the top of the American League East standings. They will be in that position for the rest of the season. But there are tickets available for their games.|

The icing on the cake for Hunter comes at the end of the game, when the pitchers from the bullpen head to the clubhouse. Usually the catcher picks up a ball or two and tosses them to kids leaning over the rail. Hunter has a couple of them. They are treasures!

James Hurst

August 14, 2016.    

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?