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Take me out to the ballpark


May 18, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

As the increasingly warmer days of spring begin to slip into summer, it is time for us all to consider our next pilgrimage.

No, I'm not talking about taking a trip to Rome, Jerusalem, Tibet or wherever you may believe your Mecca lies. No, the trek I'm speaking of is one which is much more meaningful to me. I'm talking about a trip to the ballpark.

I have been privileged to make many a trip to a major league park. It all started with the now infamous journey to Arlington, where I saw the Rangers take on the Red Sox. And while it's true that it was at that very game that I fell in love with the Olde Towne Team, it is also true that it was at that game that I fell in love with the game they played and especially with seeing that game in person.

As the years have passed I have managed to see many a baseball game in many a venue. I remember seeing Danny Ainge play second base for the Blue Jays against the Rangers. This was only a year before he took to the hardwood and became an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics.


Then there was a time my pops took us on a trip to the Astrodome in Houston. There I was lucky enough to see the most dominant pitcher of his time, that being Nolan Ryan, no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Speaking of dominant pitchers, I saw Roger Clemens two-hit the Oakland A's back in 1993 and just last year I saw Pedro Martinez work a similar brand of magic on the Angels.

Great pitching was not the only thing I've witnessed. No, I saw a couple of drunken Giants fans back in old Candlestick try to start a fight with a little kid wearing a New York Mets cap.

And while that was perhaps the funniest thing I've witnessed while chasing America's former pastime, the greatest thing I've ever seen has to have been Game 3 of the 1998 World Series, which I was lucky enough to attend with my father. It was strange, as the game was between the Padres and the Yankees and I really didn't think I'd care who won. But once I was there, standing in the shadows of over 100 years of World Series history, I too became caught up in the game and before it was over I found myself rooting as loudly as I could for the home team. (That being the Padres. Not even the Fall Classic could change my opinion of the Pinstripers).

In the end the point is the attendance. I can't really say I watch much baseball on TV. No, unless it's a Red Sox game I usually get bored by the second or third inning and am quickly looking for a channel showing "Blind Date." However, something special happens when you take a trip to the ballpark. I'm not sure if I can really explain it, but to any of you who might have gone to a game or two, I probably don't need to. There is the smell of the grass, the noise of vendors and the seventh-inning stretch. At what other time can you be part of a 40,000 person chorus, singing a song everyone knows by heart?

No, not even the rampant greed that has hijacked this beautiful game can take away the joy of a day spent at the baseball park. For when I get the feeling that I've had too much, that Alex Rodriguez is in no way worth more than the gross national product of many countries, all I have to do is think back to that first game in the Texas heat. I think of a man named Yastrzemski and the very thought makes me smile.

So if you do nothing else this summer, take yourself, your parents, your children out to the ballpark. It truly is a trip worth taking.

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