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A baseball buddy is born

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Aug. 26, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

I’d promised the guys all summer we’d go to another baseball game. I even circled dates on schedule, intending to hit one a month. But days slipped into weeks that slipped into months, and we hadn’t made it back.

My procrastination was rooted in a desire to avoid the scene of the crime. I spent most of our last visit with the guys, walking and wailing around the concourse, instead of watching Randy Johnson.

Still, a promise is a promise, so when Big Guy asked late last week when we were going to see Wally, the Modesto Nuts mascot, again, I bought tickets and hoped for the best.

The best turned out better than I’d hoped. Tonight, I found my baseball buddy.

I’ve always had people who would humor me – a roommate who would go to Cincinnati with me and crochet most of the game and, later, the guys’ dad, who would love the trip to Fisherman’s Warf but gripe the whole time at the park.

What I’ve lacked was someone who loved the game – it’s a primal thing only true fans understand. Which is why I’ve unabashedly brainwashed the guys from the start.

For the most part, I let the guys develop their own interests. I wasn’t the one who bought our first Thomas book — one of my sister’s did, and little did she know the obsession she was going to trigger in Little Guy. I’ve had nothing to do with Big Guy’s passion for planes.

But the baseball programming has been all my doing.

A co-worker made Big Guy a baby blanket adorned with cute little critters frolicking around the diamond. It was in his bed from the beginning. As soon as he got old enough for tummy time, he’d lie on it and drool as I explained the slobber-covered field before him.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was his lullaby. And that horrible summer of colic, I’d prattle endlessly as I watched the Reds on TV. Not that they were an example of the game at its finest, but my rantings about their ineptitude seemed to quiet Big Guy for a while.

I was optimistic around Christmas last year, when all Big Guy wanted from Santa was a bat. I was thrilled in the spring as Big Guy started hitting off his tee and Little Guy helped retrieve the ball. My hopes soared all summer as I knelt itchy-kneed — I’m severely allergic to grass – and threw pitch after pitch. Big Guy would swing and make contact. Little Guy would wave the bat and giggle.

But had any of it stuck? I was about the find out.

The evening started rocky, with Little Guy wandering our aisle with his fiercest “I don’t want to be here” scowl and Big Guy complaining because we weren’t “up high”. “Mine used to do the same thing,” said a dad sitting nearby. “You buy tickets behind home plate and they want to sit up in the bleachers.” I could have kissed him, but his wife wouldn’t have liked that.

We got snacks in Little Guy, and the scowl disappeared. I told Big Guy we had to sit down low there are too many peanuts in the bleachers – not entirely untrue – and he accepted that.

And then he climbed on my lap and watched the players warm up. Wanted to know why they were stretching, running, throwing. What were the “hand gloves” for? Which one was Wally’s team? I figured that all would end around the bottom of the first, when Wally and Al appeared.

But there are indeed still miracles in this world, and I could swear I heard a heavenly choir over John Thurman Field tonight.

“Do you want to go shake Wally’s hand now?” I asked Big Guy as the mascots ran out.

“No. I want to watch the game.”

Brainwashing complete.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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