Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks
I don't care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root
For the home team
If they don't win it's a shame
For it's one,
Three strikes you're out
At the old ball game
I love baseball. It has been a joy to live in an area where I have the opportunity to watch America’s pastime each summer. With the Billings Mustangs—the Cincinnati Reds rookie team in the Pioneer League--located here, I get to see quite a few games between June and August the past four summers. And, I have enjoyed every one of the games . . . but now I enjoy them even more.
You have not experienced a baseball game until to attend one with a nearly year old granddaughter. This summer I have had the opportunity to attend two games with the granddaughter and baseball has never been the same. Baseball with a nearly one-year-old is an adventure!
First thing anyone needs to know about baseball and one-year-olds is that you do not watch too much baseball. Little kids at that age don’t have the attention span to watch a baseball game beyond the first pitch. Little kids that age are easily distracted by anything and everything around them . . . especially other people. Little kids that age don’t sit still . . . they wiggle, squirm, sway, clap, grab, jump, and dance. Little kids that age scream . . . or say, “Mama” or “Dada” a lot . . . or just make noises . . . not so much to communicate, but to hear themselves. Little kids that age seem like bottomless pits . . . constantly wanting food or something to drink. Shoot! It is like going to a baseball game with a teenager . . . only in a smaller package.
Second thing about going to a baseball game with a nearly one-year-old is that a person can do it alone . . . it takes an army. We have nicknamed our granddaughter “Cracker Jacks” as she gets passed around a lot at the ballgames. She goes from Mama to Nana to Daddy to Grandpa back to Nana to Mama to Daddy to Grandpa . . . over and over and over again. Remember, nearly one-year-olds have the attention span of gnat, easily get bored, and are constantly moving. It is the only way to keep her entertained and happy because if the granddaughter ain’t happy, ain’t going to be anyone happy within three sections of the stadium. It is best to keep the granddaughter happy.
Which brings us to the third thing . . . lots of walking. Since the granddaughter has started going to baseball games, I do a lot more walking during the game . . . usually around and around the stadium . . . but, hey, I’m getting my exercise. The walking is because the granddaughter can no longer be content, is getting unhappy, and is warming up the vocal chords to let everyone know. To avoid a complete meltdown, Grandpa walks the child. I scoop her up and we take a grand tour of the stadium. I think that this is one of the highlights of the game for me . . . it is amazing how many compliments one gets when his or her granddaughter is cute. Good for the self-esteem.
So, around and around we go. I point out the important things she needs to learn. I show her where the bouncing hut is for when she gets older . . . I point out where the restrooms are for when she gets beyond the diaper stage . . . show her where the concession stands are . . . where the gift shop is . . . I even show her the field in case she ever wants to actually watch the game . . . I introduce her Homer Mustang—the team mascot—which scares her more than entertains her. I can understand where she is coming from . . . it is not every day that one encounters a great big stuffed animal walking around the ball park scaring little kids. All the while she points, hugs, coos, babbles, hugs some more, and hangs on for the ride.
I don’t get to watch much baseball when the granddaughter comes along. But, that is okay. That is okay because I remember another little girl who I used to drag to baseball games . . . she was a lot like the granddaughter. I remember taking a lot of walks around the stadium with her too. Her short-term nickname was “Cracker Jack” as she got passed around a lot between her mother and I. She grew to have a great appreciation and love for baseball in time . . . and, she loves to go to the games. She grew to be a beautiful young woman who—with her husband’s help—graced our lives with a granddaughter . . . a granddaughter we drag to the games. In time she will hopefully come to love the game as much as her grandpa and mother do.
It is a mere inconvenience for the time being to sacrifice a few games to share my love with the newest member of the family . . . besides, they always put the results in the newspaper the next day. Even though I am at the games and don’t get to see much of them, I don’t miss them that much. I have discovered something better . . . time with my granddaughter sharing the moment with one another. It isn’t so much about the game as it is the moment of being in one another’s presence. The games will come and go, but these moments with my granddaughter only happen once . . . I cherish them. As the credit card commercial states, “Priceless!” It took my granddaughter to show me what was important about a ball game . . . the people. Of course, I like my peanuts and Cracker Jacks . . . even the newest “Cracker Jack”—my granddaughter. In those moments . . . “I don’t care if I ever get back” . . .