This past weekend, I asked you to share the stories of your days at the ballpark. I’ve been to only five or six major league games myself (though now, I plan on going to many each year), so my memories are pretty solid, but for those who go more frequently, or went years ago, it may be harder to recall a specific moment. We had three posts try their best to remember those days.
Hey, Looie! - yuj
What they said: They took the T to Kenmore on a summer night in the ‘70s. They were first in line for the excellent one dollar bleacher seats (why can’t they be this cheap today?). Good ol’ Daniel brought his glove, and shouted to the immortal Luis Tiant “hey, throw me the ball!” Luis Tiant complied with this request, and then the Red Sox won. It was a great day.
I don’t know much about the 70s (since I was born in the early 90s), but I imagine there are a few differences between Fenway back then and now. I wonder how much ballpark atmosphere in general has changed. If anyone has been to the park in both eras they should definitely speak up and tell us about the differences.
What I can say, is that it’s great to have interaction with players at the park and it’s one of the many reasons to go to a ballpark instead of watching it on TV. While I didn’t shout at Luis Tiant and I’ve never been in a position to ask someone to throw me a baseball, I did get to have a funny interaction with Brock Holt during last night’s Red Sox/Orioles game.
Anyone who knows me, knows one thing, I made a bet and am obligated to follow through on it, because Brock Holt once hit a home run in a game at Angels Stadium. Well, Brock Holt has become something of a must-see for me whenever I go to a Sox game as a result. When Brock Holt came in to right field to replace Mookie Betts, our section started to cheer “Happy Birthday, Brock Holt!”
He turned to acknowledge us, and I raised my arms in the air, and shouted “Brock Holt!”
I’m pretty sure he heard me, and I’m pretty sure he smiled. It’s good enough for me.
The Pokey Reese Experience - Timothy.Smart
What they said : Frankly, 100 words isn’t enough to really summarize the story in the words I want to use. Smart brings us back to May 8th, 2004, when Pokey Reese was a thing. It was such a vivid description that we just had to feature it on the main page for a day, to make sure the maximum amount of people saw it. If you haven’t read, click off this page, and read it, share it, and then come back here. This story, to me, encapsulates why it’s so awesome to go to a ballpark, you never know what’s going to happen.
When unpredictability hits at a baseball game, any number of things can be running through your head. For me, when I’m watching a game on TV, I’m constantly thinking about the numbers of each situation, how to make an optimal move, and reading data to best determine how things are going to go. When unpredictability comes into the equation, the data gets messy. Things that seemed sure, aren’t sure. Things that seemed impossible, are now possible.
This is when I’m at home, and have the ability to rationalize things by looking at numbers, and being able to say “yeah, I guess maybe there’s a chance for something like this to happen in some universe.”
When I’m at the ballpark, it doesn’t feel like I can always rationalize what I’m seeing. I was at the game when Mookie went deep three times (well, the most recent one, I mean, he’s done it a couple times!) and each time he stepped up to the plate, you knew he was going to do something. But when the ball jumped the fence on each one, it seemed all the more impossible. When you witness greatness from a great player, sure, you expect it. But at a ballpark, you get a better gauge for just how impressive some feats are.
For example, for Mookie Betts to hit three home runs in a game, he has to hit a baseball, all 9.25 inches in circumference, right on the barrel of a bat that is around 2.5-2.6 inches in diameter, and launch it with enough power to hit it over a fence that is generally at least 7 feet tall, anywhere between 350 to 400 feet away. To do so once is incredible, you may not see a single home run from anyone in a game. To do so twice is ridiculous. To do so three times? You would be forgiven for thinking it’s almost impossible. There’s a reason it’s not a routine ability among even the best players in the league.
Seeing moments of athleticism and pure baseball ability live makes the game even easier to love. I’m sure watching Pokey Reese muscle up on the ball to hit two dingers of his own was just as awe-inspiring of a moment. If nothing else, it definitely made the game memorable.
First Trip to Fenway - gosawks
What they said : During David Ortiz’s final season, gosawks and his future wife took a road trip all the way from Pennsylvania to see a Sox/Royals game. Her favorite player was J.D. Drew. Her second? David Ortiz. Unfortunately, what was a great date night was now a family get-together. The first steps into that legendary park gave him chills. David Ortiz acknowledged her, and threw her a ball. David Ortiz was now her favorite player. Best of all, gosawks had his Fenway Frank, and had the full experience. It was a good day.
I have a confession. I’ve never been to Fenway Park. I plan on going this season, and when I do, it will be the third major league park I visit. Three is my lucky number, so I’m stoked.
But enough about that.
This all goes under the player/fan interaction spoken of above. It doesn’t have to be a player tossing you a ball, or even a player making you feel like the only person at the park. A player is just a person like you or me. A person who happens to be extremely talented at baseball, sure, but a person all the same.
When these people take time out of their routines to acknowledge the fans who come to watch them, or engage with them in meaningful activities, it gives us memories we can hold onto for a lifetime. It gives us something to talk about, that reminds us that we were alive, which is really one of the greatest experiences of them all.
A fan may drive ten miles to see their favorite player play. A different one may travel a hundred miles. To say nothing of the trip back. For a simple wave and a baseball (which you could theoretically buy for 16 bucks - at least if you want an official ball) to make an eight hour trip worth it for a fan goes a long way to showing why we go to the park.
Sure, watching the team win is great. Watching them play in general is cool too. Sharing the experiences with those we care about is probably one of the greatest joys I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. But just existing and taking in a game and the interactions therein is an exhilarating experience itself.
And that’s all for today! See you on Friday!