At some point a long time ago, in my teenagehood, I suppose, I met the terms “first base,” “second base,” and so on – in a romantic sense, let’s say. In a book or a film or something. I had a vague idea of what they referred to, but I wasn’t so hot on the specifics. A lot of questions remained unanswered for many years: Which way did the sequence go – was “first” the very beginning or the final target? (First is the winning place, after all.) But then if first was the start, how many bases were there – was this an open-ended thing? Could you define your own bases, perhaps, to infinitely frustrate the boys?
The problem was that while I read American books and watched American films, I had no knowledge of American sports. Sure, I’ve seen Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, I can say something came out of left field or talk about home runs, but I’d never actually been to a baseball game. And those phrases, it turns out, about the bases – they’re talking about baseball. Well, except when they’re not, obviously.
And then. Dash took up baseball this season. He’s playing “machine pitch,” which is what they do for the seven- and eight-year-olds. It’s slightly harder than T-ball (where the ball is propped up on a stand to be struck) but easier than expecting the kids to pitch a hittable ball as well as hit it – a machine sends the balls at them in what’s supposed to be a steady stream of nicely centered, not-too-fast pitches.
But after a couple of practices, B. pointed out to me that the poor boy has no notion what he’s meant to be doing, beyond the hitting and the catching (which are not as easy as they look). He’s never even watched a game on the TV, never mind in real life. So we decided we should take in a game.
I’ve never been one for sports, really, and I’m lucky enough to be married to a man who is also not very interested in watching the game, whatever game it might be. I’m pretty sure that the only time I’ve ever been to a professional sporting event before, it was (ironically enough) an exhibition game of American football in Dublin that we got free tickets to, and it was incredibly boring and totally incomprehensible.
Maybe I had lumped baseball with football and decided that it too would be incredibly boring. Maybe I felt that not going to a game was the last bastion of not being American that I wished to hold out on. Maybe I just had no reason and no interest. But however it came about, after ten years in the country, yesterday I finally went to a real actual proper ballgame.
|Looks authentic, no?|
Not the big leagues, of course. We started small, with a minor league game close to home – but still professional baseball. The weather was just right – warm enough but not too hot or sunny. The game was well-attended but not too crowded. Dash wore his shorts in case they needed an extra player at the last minute.
|Dash demonstrates his swing|
|“Need some help with that?”|