Peanuts & Cracker Jacks

Apr. 04, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Spring means perusing the farmers markets for local fruits and vegetables, planting fresh little flower gardens in the front yard, dusting off grills for barbecues in the backyard and, most importantly, kicking off baseball season.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed watching and attending baseball games. My brothers grew up playing T-ball and little league baseball. I would watch attentively as they oiled their mitts and laced up their cleats. I too wanted to wear one of those uniforms with my own special number and to be part of a team.

My dad taught me how to throw a baseball, catch with a mitt and swing a bat, which led me to play T-ball like my brothers. This was when every player got a chance at bat and was called “safe” after stealing second base. It was when games somehow always ended in a tie. It was when everyone received a trophy at the end of a successful season. I went on to play softball, where the games became more competitive as I grew older.

Although I eventually stopped playing softball, I continued to watch my brothers’ baseball games. And when they stopped playing baseball, we still continued to have our own backyard games.

This is how I have come to enjoy baseball games, especially minor and major league games. It is more than just the game that I like — it is the entire atmosphere. The smell of the hot dogs, the crack of the bat, the seventh inning stretch, the roar of the crowd as they cheer on their favorite pin-striped player.

In both my hometown and in the city where I did my undergraduate studies there is a minor league team. And during my graduate studies I lived in a town with a Major League team. I try to attend as many baseball games as I can when they are so accessible.

I am one of those girls who goes to a baseball game to actually watch the game, not so much to socialize, to be on my cell phone or to wander around the stadium (unless it is in search of more nachos). I have been known to sit near my brothers, my dad or my guy friends who are actively involved and tuned in to every pop fly, RBI and strikeout on the field. It is not that I consider myself “one of the guys,” but that I genuinely enjoy baseball. And the majority of my gal pals are clueless when it comes to America’s favorite pastime, bless their hearts.

Last year while I was attending a Major League game, I am proud to say I caught a foul ball that was hit into the outfield. Yes, me. Normally I would duck at any baseball flying my way and let the more adamant fans fight over it. But this baseball headed straight for me and fell right into my bare hands.

This spring I am looking forward to experiencing my first Owls game in Forest City, complete with foul balls, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.