1. I was trying to think what would be the first major league game I ever went to would be. I think I might have gone to a Cardinals or White Sox game as a baby when my folks were on vacation, but I'm not sure.
2. I do have vague memories of going to a Cardinals game when I was little, and also to see the Orioles on a trip to Baltimore/DC when I was 8.
3. I have been to the following ballparks (in my family we refuse to call them stadiums...you play ball in a PARK): Cardinals (pre-their new ballpark), Texas (also pre-new ballpark), Houston (Astrodome), Royals (love the fountains!), Wrigley, Comiskey (original), Baltimore (pre-Camden Yards), Rockies, Seattle. I have walked around outside of Jacobs Field while on a trip to the Church House in Cleveland, but they weren't playing...it was the playoffs, and they weren't in 'em. I've also been to minor league games in Portland, Louisville, Little Rock, and Ashville. I'd like to visit all the ballparks before I die.
4. The one and only time that my brothers and I were ever taken out of school (besides for illness or orthodontist appointments...) was to go to the Royals Worlds Series parade in 1985 (we were living in Kansas at the time). We gathered up ticker-tape, which I kept in a bag in my closet for years afterwards.
5. We had a fairly good-sized backyard in Kansas, and we would play ball out there, my brothers and I and any neighborhood kids who were around. The bigger of the two apple trees was second base. Sometimes we'd put the radio in the window when the Royals were playing and pretend we were them. I always thought the jingle "Royals Baseball: Go for the Action!" was better than "Royals Baseball: Something Special In the Air!" They sounded almost exactly the same, but the second one was just cheesy.
6. I used to be able to rattle off the whole lineup of the 1985ish Royals. I still remember some: Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubizca, Frank White, Dan Quisenberry, George Brett, Willie Wilson, Amos Otis, Steve Balboni. My brothers will chide me for the ones I've forgotten.
7. I distinctly remember the Pine Tar Incident. We could not believe George Brett had been robbed! The next day, we were taking a family trip to somewhere (it may even have been Kansas City), and Mom read every bit of reporting on it out loud from the paper.
8. In spite of all these Royals memories, I am not a die-hard Royals fan...I do have a soft spot for them, though, and am loving that my neice is such a big fan (here she is running the bases at the Royals ballpark with my brother TBro):
9. My neice's favorite player is this guy. She LOOOOOVES him. The Royals' AA team plays where they live, see, and my brother has season tickets, good seats, close enough that Kila would toss balls and stuff to her all the time. TBro says he thought Kila got to where he'd recognize when my neice hollered his name. Pretty cool. We have a deal that when he starts playing regularly in KC (you can see he has just had a few ABs in the bigs), we will all meet there for a game.
10. Baseball is a family love, in case you hadn't noticed. The family pantheon is Ted Williams, George Brett, and Willie Mays. Mom and Dad went to a Cardinals game for their honeymoon.
11. yankeehating also runs deep in the family. My grandmother once threatened to throw me out of the car when I said I wanted to be a yankee fan. I was 7 or 8, maybe. I don't think she meant it...
12. My dad, brothers, and I have run a family baseball "pool" now for several years. We pick division winners, wildcards, pennant winners, and the World Series winner. The person running the pool then can add whatever other picks s/he likes, such as who will win the AL MVP and will Curt Schilling pitch this season or not. My mom is the judge in case of disputes. Which there are on occasion, such as the time TBro's category was "how many 'roid busts this year" (you had to guess a number), but then started counting any kind of drug bust. Exegete that I am, I had to call him on it.
13. The loser of the pool has to wear a yankee hat to a major/minor league ballpark the next season, and provide photographic evidence of such. Yours truly, last June:
That's right, I won't even show my face. The shame! Thankfully, I get to pass the hat off to SBro this year.
14. If you ever go to a ballgame with me, you should know I will want to get there as soon as the gates open to watch batting practice. As evidenced by above photo, at the Rockies ballpark, with Giants players in the background warming up.
15. We always eat peanuts (in the shell, half the fun is shelling them), in memory of my grandfather, who always shelled and ate peanuts at ballgames.
16. Last year for an assignment on embodied theology, I did a project on baseball. On my birthday, I had a bunch of friends over to watch the Rockies on TV. We ate ballpark food (including peanuts, of course!) and reflected periodically on the theological aspects of baseball. Some folks wrote their thoughts in a booklet which I had created, which I turned in with my own reflections, and a ziploc bag of peanuts for the prof. I made an A.
17. Metal bats are an abomination unto the Lord.
18. Remember those commercials, "chicks dig the long ball"? Not me. I love "small ball" -- good baserunning, steals, hustle. I think it's much more exciting. A home run should be a suprise, not just something you sit around waiting for, like the inevitable.
19. The closest I've gotten to a World Series game is a sports bar a few blocks from the Rockies ballpark, when they lost Game 4 to the Red Sox. The bar was full of Sox fans, including my friend JT. We walked back to the train through the crowds and by the ballpark, and I tried to imagine what was going on in the Red Sox locker room, not very far away from me at all.
20. BlueEyes has a friend who works for the Rockies, and I got to hold her NLCS ring. It's heavy! She gets us good tickets, too. Here's the view from the hand-operated scoreboard in right field, where she took my cielo and I on a tour last summer:
During BP, natch. And yes, I did get to change the score for a game!
21. A friend and I went to hang out at the D-Backs spring training in Tucson in 2000. We watched Matt Mantei and Randy Johnson take batting practice. Randy really is like a foot taller than everyone else. My cielo and I are going to Tucson next month and hope to catch a Rockies Srping Training game.
22. Astroturf is an abomination unto the Lord.
23. My mother thinks the DH is an abomination unto the Lord (as well as baseball played west of St. Louis), but I am a bit more ambivalent. I really enjoyed watching Edgar Martinez hit when we lived in Portland and the Mariners were on TV every day (except days off), and that wouldn't have happened without the DH. But the purist in me does believe that the pitcher should have to hit.
24. Annie Savoy's speech is just about the best thing ever:
I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex. There's never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250... not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there's a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I've got a ballplayer alone, I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. 'Course, a guy'll listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball - now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake? It's a long season and you gotta trust. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.
25a. I believe that heaven will include lots and lots of ball fields, and endless games, and anyone can play. And there'll be choir practice between innings.
25b. Baseball heals. I believe this, too.