I know the viewership of this blog has changed slightly since I was a regular poster here- (see the early days of this fine blog and you will see). What once was a small group of friends and family is now a network of other bloggers, still friends and family I guess but slightly more vocal. (and when I say bloggers I mean mainly moms who like to share funny stories about their kids.-not that there's anything wrong with that, I love a good story about a funny bodily function or a kid saying the darnedest thing. I especially love a story that involves both with the occasional food wild card thrown in.)
So with my aforementioned audience in mind lets get mushy.
Let me start by reminding you that us Johnsons love us some baseball. Specifically Angels baseball. So I was over joyed to find out when I met this McCall girl (who adamantly claimed to dislike football- just a sport I was playing at the time collegiately) that she was a rabid baseball fan thanks to, in large part, a dad who himself is a rabid baseball fan. But wait - there was a catch. A twist of fate Shakespeare himself would have seen too vile to subject even his immortally tragic characters to in so much as a sonnet. That's right, my Juliet was a Mariners fan. For those of you who don't know what that means you might as well just stop reading and skip to the cute picture part of this blog.....Go ahead you can still think of a witty comment with the material above or just say something like "oh he is so cute" if nothing else comes to mind.
The year was 2001 and it was smooth sailing for M's fans as their beloved team was cruising towards the most regular season wins in baseball history (leaving my Angels something like 40 games back by the end of the season-fact checkers might want to get me a real number there but just know it was thoroughly embarrassing to say the least). As the playoffs came I found myself in a dilemma. Root against the team that had made hamburger out of my Halo's or apply some of that Christ-like forgiveness I had learned as a recently returned missionary and cheer on my beloved's favorite team. I chose wisely and cheered on her Mariners and you see where that landed me. (Luckily the Yankees came to town and I didn't have to root them all the way into the world series as that may have been too much for young love to conquer.) To return the favor, my by then wife, sat by me and hooted and hollered the next season when the Angels did go all the way to win the World Series.
Why is this important? Its not to you. But its not your blog so chill.
Its important because going to baseball games with our dad (& sometimes mom) to both of us has been an important part of growing up and becoming the people we are. So when I heard that Scotty would be attending a Mariners game when he went to visit Grandma and Grandpa later this month, I knew I only had a small window to get my butt in gear. "No son of mine is going to his first baseball game without me. Mariners or otherwise." I said to Erika. And since a trip to Seattle at this point professionally is not in the cards, I got to work finding us some tickets to a game a little closer to home.
Last night was that game. Angels v Indians at the stadium in Anaheim. Now if you have read here in the past you know that I traditionally have not been a misty eyed softy, but that Scotty has at times transformed me into just that. This was one of those times. We parked in the parking lot outside and he was in a happy mood (just happy to be out of his car seat I think). We took a few pictures outside the stadium and then went in. The whole way I just watched as he Giving the evil eye to some Indian fanslooked around in amazement at all these new things to look at. It really was a proud moment. we rode the escalator up to the upper deck (the abode of the Johnson boys when we were paying for tickets.) As we stepped out of the tunnel into that wide open expanse of the field(a moment that always gives me chills) I watched as Scotty's eyes widened to take it all in. I was still in control at this point but then we made our way to our seats. Right behind home plate, a spot I distinctively remember from a game in my youth sitting next to dad (who was taking score or reading the program) with binoculars in my hand looking down at the players like Lance Parrish, Brian Downing, and our favorite Wally Joyner. I remember that even their stirrup socks had little A's on them and that we were playing Oakland that night and I hate Oakland. I remember Jose Canseco looked so big (and now I know why) and that Dave Stewart was unhittable. We lost that game but the memory is so alive still that I feel a little of each of those early games every time I am there.
I know Scotty won't remember this game. It will be years before he has any allegiance to a team. But the thought of being able to take him to a game and teach him how to eat sunflower seeds and peanuts, to point out what everyone on the field does, to explain things like the suicide squeeze and the infield fly rule here in those same seats where I learned was just too much. I found myself tearing up and hiding behind Scotty's head so Erika couldn't see me. I felt more like a dad (not just a father-you know the difference) than at any point yet.
The game was amazing. A pitchers duel until the end when there were two or three lead changes and a dramatic walk-off grand slam by the home team. I wish I could say I was there for it. Scotty started crying after the fireworks during the national anthem and we each took turns standing in the tunnel or walking around the concourse to keep him from being overwhelmed by all the sounds. We finally settled in the outfield where he was happy and we could watch what we thought was the last lead change (a home run that landed right in front of us and sent the crowd into a frenzy and Scotty into a conniption.) By then it was late and it was time for some karmic retribution. You see I also remember a game on the 4th of July when I was so scared of the fireworks display (which really is the reason you pay outrageous prices for a game on the 4th)that dad had to take me out to the van before it was over. With this in mind I thought about my little boy and new that this cry meant "take me home". I guess I am getting old, or I just love him that much, but I didn't even think twice about it. We just got our stuff and headed out. We listened in horror on the ride home as the Indians regained the lead in the top of the ninth and rejoiced only slightly when Torie Hunter hit a bases loaded slam in the bottom of the ninth to win it.....just as we pulled into our driveway.
Really made me think, as old me would be so mad to miss an experience like that. In fact some of the games I remember the best are the ones that I have been a witness to dramatic comebacks. But the dad in me was just fine with the whole thing, and just happy to be home with a smiling baby boy.
Give him some time though. He'll be the one telling me we can't go home yet because its not over.