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9to5to9: Take them out to the ballgame — you bet

Submitted by on Friday, 7 November 2008 2 Comments

I got a telemarketing call tonight I’m sorry I missed. I might even return it.

It was from the local Single A baseball team and immediately made me forget I’ve been shivering most of the day in an effort to avoid firing up the furnace as long as possible.

How can I not warm up when thinking about baseball?

The guys went to four games this year — a record for them, though not anywhere near for me — and it’s going to be hard for anything to live up to the joy of the final one.

It was a Friday, so there were fireworks. And the guys got to run the bases. And Big Guy’s massive smiling face landed on the centerfield JumboTron.

Add that to the normal bliss of stalking Wally and Al, the team mascots, plus wrist bands for the bounce house and you’ve crossed into pure boy ecstasy.

All for less than it would cost us to go to a movie. Especially if I can avoid excessive concession stand trips, which I’m able to pull off by filling them up before the game and making them choose between wrist bands and extra treats once we get there.

That’s why more people went to see the Modesto Nuts this year season than at any time in franchise history. The price is right, it doesn’t take long to get there, and the atmosphere is great. And the players still care.

The record was aided by deep discounting of bleacher seats late in the season, a savvy move on the team’s part as gas prices climbed and the economy tanked. Officials knew getting people in the park means they’ll at least sell them food. Empty seats don’t usually buy peanuts and Cracker Jack.

Even before the discount, though, the team was setting single-game records because the marketing folks are just plain smart.

They reach out to every grade school in the county through a reading program. They offer area Little League teams $7 tickets that include food, plus a chance to parade around with the players before the game. They make sure the players are front and center after every game, handing out baseballs and signing autographs.

And you can’t help but fall in love with the players, because at this level they’re still busting their butts on every play. It might be the 30-something trying to master junk pitches in hopes of hanging on or the Venezuelan teen whose pay amounts to more than his whole family earns. Or it might be the local high school star whose proud poppa is at every game.

The guys got to know each and every one of them last year. They’d study the program for weeks after every game, and pretty soon they didn’t even have to ask who still was on the team. They knew, and they knew positions as well.

The latter they still would have done if we’d gone to Major League games in San Francisco or Oakland. But they never would have gotten close enough to players to be able to see that they were real people. And far too many of the Major League players wouldn’t have given a flip about two tiny boys.

Don’t defend them — I’ve seen it too often. One particular game in Oakland almost 10 years ago, I watched an 8-year-old try to give the A’s bullpen strawberries the entire game. He didn’t even want an autograph — he simply was trying to share a treat.

There were no takers. His heart broke, and I wanted to sentence those pitchers to Wrigley Field against the Cubs for the rest of their lives. With the wind blowing out.

So I’ll take my tiny little Single A ballpark again next year, where the entertainment is affordable, the players care and the mascots always are just a hug away.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Julie@Cool Mom Guide said:

    We just moved about a mile from the local baseball stadium, I’m so excited to get involved!

  • Debra said:

    Start ‘em young, brainwash ‘em right!

    I’m wondering, though, if your pantsless football habit extends to baseball. That could land baby Joshua in some trouble if given his, er, habit you wrote about this week.