Kidding Around: Take me out to the ballgame

Apr. 05, 2013 @ 05:30 AM

This week, I have been spending a lot of time at McNair Field enjoying some high school baseball games. I jumped at the chance to go to this Easter tournament when I saw how warm it was supposed to be on Monday. The perfect baseball weather and the allure of spending a couple of hours watching America's favorite pasttime sucked me in.

As I have written before, my family is a baseball family. Beginning around February and running until October, if you needed us and we were not at home, we could almost always be found on a baseball or softball field somewhere.

Going to the games at McNair reminded me of all of those exciting times, close games, late-night practices, the hours we spent playing catch and practicing our hitting in the yard and the far away tournaments.

Most of my childhood was spent out behind Coleridge Elementary school where the games were played.

I remember how we were all so excited when they decided to build the baseball and softball fields back there. Visions of hosting tournaments and money for the baseball program danced in my daddy's head as they were being built. He was the baseball director for the recreation league for several years, so he was always in charge of finding umpires, lining the field and making sure the concession stand was stocked with goodies.

This meant along with practicing and playing games, I was always at the field late into the night, helping him pick up trash or whatever he needed and watching my friends who were on other teams play.

When we finally started having those tournaments, I worked the gate taking up money. That is probably where I first realized how mean people could be. There was always the few who would walk by the table, refusing to stop and pay. How could they say no to this cute little blonde face?

When that happened, I would run down to the concession stand, or wherever my daddy was at the time, to inform him of what terrible people they were.

I also worked in the concession stand. I guess that was back before they had sanitation rules because my friends and I were in charge. We didn't need adults to take orders, warm up those pizzas and supply people with any flavor of Gatorade, Airhead or bubble gum they wanted. However, I'm not sure if I would be allowed to sit on the counter in front of the window to watch the games anymore. In today's world, that probably wouldn't fly with health inspectors.

When I wasn't working or playing in a game, I would spend time on the playground. Some of my best memories as a child are of swinging, playing basketball or zooming down the slides with my friends in the evenings after games. If I was lucky, whoever I had a crush on at the time would be out there too and we could play together. I spent several hours chasing after baseball player boys on that playground.

When I go back to that field now, it all seems so different. It seems smaller, they have made new additions to the buildings and there is a whole new crop of children out there playing.

People don't know me anymore. Back in the day, anywhere I went in Coleridge I was known as Mark Kidd's daughter, the one who is good at softball. Now I'm just some blonde twenty-something that should be there to watch her own child play. Or at least it seems that way to me. I have actually seen some people that I went to high school with cheering on their children in t-ball games. That's a weird feeling.

As I was walking around McNair Field, watching community members greet each other with hugs and smiles, I started thinking about how I have become a member of many new communities in my life. I went from the small town of Coleridge, to the slightly larger Salisbury in college and now I am here in Rutherford County.

Although I have only been living in Forest City for a little over a year, I feel like I am slowly becoming a part of this small town friendly that everyone talks about.

A few months ago, the ballpark would have been full of strangers, but it felt good to walk around the field this week and see some familiar faces.

My goal for the upcoming months is to attend as many Owls games as possible and meet some fun new people. I figure the people who attend the games obviously like baseball, so we would probably get along. I want to be more than just that newspaper girl, I want to be involved. And I figure that going to more baseball games will help me do just that.