Baseball was the first sport I ever had an interest in. If you know anything about me, you know I’ll watch just about anything that has to do with sports. Well, with the exception of golf. I’d rather watch grass grow, quite frankly. But this isn’t about the other sports I enjoy – it’s about what, moreover who, inclined me to form a love for the sport of baseball.
It was a school day and I was ecstatic. My dad was pulling me out of school early, not because I was sick, but because we were going to a baseball game. My pappy, an Orioles fan as is my father, often had tickets for O’s games and was treating me to a game for the very first time. I had never been to a live ball game before. I could not wait to get out of school and hit the road the Baltimore.
When we finally got down to B’more to see the hometown O’s take on the Toronto Blue Jays, the first thing we did was take a stroll down Eutaw Street between the B&O Warehouse and the stadium. The atmosphere was incredible and I was in awe. While that may not be significant to some, it was to me. Sure, I’d seen it on TV, but when you’re a kid and you’re actually there seeing everything up close for the first time, it’s pretty amazing. We stopped for a bite to eat, hit a couple of the shops, and tried to chase down a batting practice long ball or two, albeit to no avail. Despite leaving Eutaw Street empty-handed, I was having a blast…and we hadn’t even entered the stadium yet.
Once we finally ventured into the park and found our seats out in left field, I asked if I could go stand down by the field to watch some of the Orioles warm up before the game. Dad said yes, so I walked down by myself and just stood there contently watching the guys toss balls back and forth in the outfield. After a few minutes of standing there quietly, minding my own business and just spectating, one of the players walked over to me and handed me a ball. There it was, my very first ball game souvenir at my very first ball game. With a huge smile on my face, I thanked him and ran back up to our seats to show my dad and pappy what I’d just obtained.
That was the highlight of my day, and that day was easily one of the top five days of my life. There is nothing like sitting in the stands on a warm summer evening and hearing the crack of the bat up close and personal. It is one of my all-time favorite things to do, and that one day will always remain a major reason why. Being as young as I was, I don’t even remember any of the details from the game itself. And to be honest, they aren’t even important to me. What was important to me, however, was who I spent that day with: My pappy. He passed away 15 years ago today, and I couldn’t miss him more than I do during baseball season.
With the influence of him and my father, you’d think that I would have turned out to be an Orioles fan, but that isn’t exactly the case. While I grew up to be a fan of all things Philadelphia, deep down there will always be a part of me that’ll root for the Birds. It’s the least I can do for the man who introduced me to the wonder that is baseball.