EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate my son turning 2 years old on Feb. 16, this is Part III of a four-part series describing my Crash-course initiation into daddyhood. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training in one week, this is the PERFECT post to share. It was originally posted on June 6, 2010.
My response (in all seriousness): “I didn’t know that was an option.”
My friend tucked his lips, which created an unsure smirk, and shrugged his shoulders.
Me: “Crash will love baseball, right?
If Crash’s first Rangers’ game is any indication of his “love of the game,” my buddy’s rhetorical comment is actually valid.
Before I get into the details of this failed experiment at the Ballpark in Arlington, I will acknowledge that Crash might be a little too young for this kind of adventure. That became obvious when the 14th person said, “I never would have brought my infant to a game.”
Our thought process: Since Crash loves being around people, loves being outside and has the ultimate baseball name, we thought this was going to be a wonderfully great exprience.
I really thought our biggest hurdles were cleared before we ever got inside the Ballpark.
We wanted to get to the game a little earlier than usual – we normally allow just enough time to grab a cold beer and sit down before first pitch. But I wanted Crash to experience it all – from the National Anthem to the Rangers taking the field for the first time.
I’m so glad we gave ourselves the “extra time” – we used it to haul the full set of luggage we brought with us to the game. (I’ve taken less bags on a week-long vacation.)
There were a couple other things that cut into our pre-game festivities:
• We made a couple trips back to the parking lot for things we forgot in the car (e.g. pacifier)
• We were stopped countless number of times by people who wanted to share their parenting beliefs. (Reminder: “I would have never brought my kid to a game that young!”)
It was all good, though – we were going to the Rangers game, and we still had plenty of time before first pitch.
After single-handedly bottlenecking up the Bag Check line, we finally made it inside the stadium.
Again, I thought the biggest hurdles were cleared.
Instead of chasing down the Beer Guy – like previous trips to the Ballpark – we were on a mission to make Crash’s first Rangers’ game “official.” I had heard rumors that kids could receive a certificate – signed by Nolan Ryan – to recognize this fantastic milestone. Two very sweet Ranger employees (below) hooked us up.
You could tell Crash was soaking it all in – so far, so good.
We still had a little time prior to first pitch, so we walked around the concourse. We were fishing for compliments on how cute Crash looked in his Rangers’ gear and taking advantage of any and all photo opportunities.
After finding our seats, we ran into trouble, though. We quickly realized the noise and the heat of the June evening were going to be issues.
As soon as the Rangers’ public address announcer (Chuck Morgan) said, “Your Texas Rangers!” – Crash was on edge. His sweaty little body was also a warning sign of things to come.
His mom was very sympathetic to his situation (wiping his face with a wet rag – not pictured).
In regards to the highly anticipated first pitch (mentioned several times already in this post because of its importance to ANY baseball game)…it was highlighted by TK giving Crash a bottle.
My thought process: “He’ll be good to go after this, right? He’ll be eating peanuts, keeping a box score, chasing after foul balls and trying to sneak a sip of my beer!”
BUT after his bottle, our 3 1/2-month old son turned into “Concourse Joe.”
While sitting in the stuffy, warm seats – with the speakers blaring right behind us – Crash was miserable. BUT walking around the concourse, he was in heaven – he was still outside and there were still a lot of people. The only difference…in the concourse, Chuck Morgan wasn’t shaking his baby brain.
Not necessarily for TK….
She will admit that taking care of “Concourse Joe” makes it hard to enjoy….ANYTHING. She would sit in the seats for five minutes at a time and then dash back to the concourse before he had a melt down. TK ate her hot dog and drank her only beer of the night while watching the game on closed circuit TV.
(Special thanks to her for letting me enjoy the game and visit with an old friend who went to the game with us.)
Crash was already over it, though. He didn’t enjoy this journey, which even included a stop by the “misty fans” (right).
Needless to say, the wheels were coming off.
Towards the end of our long walk, Crash actually started to fall asleep. We debated whether to return to the seats, knowing that him snoozing through “Now batting Michael Young!” was a long shot. (Actually, it would have scared the yellow poop out of him and turned him into a screaming banshee.)
We didn’t want to give up on this experiment, though. This was his first Rangers’ game DANG IT!
TK offered to walk him until he was sound sleep and then bring him back to the seats. She said, “If he starts crying again…we’ll go home.”
Defeat had already started to set in for me. I agreed.
We stayed for another half inning, but when TK removed Crash’s socks and stuffed them in his ears – I heard the words of my college roommate as he stared at that mural in Crash’s room:
“I really hope Crash likes baseball.”
I turned to TK, smiled, and said, “Let’s go.”
Then it was time to write this blog post:
• Where do I start?
• What should I leave out?
• What part(s) should I poetically enhance (Remember the complete luggage set? Confession: We only had two bags.)
• How do you capture excitement AND disappointment?
My biggest issue: “How do I wrap this up in a nice, neat, poignant package?”
During a conversation with my neighbor – telling her the tale of “Concourse Joe” – she tied it all together for me.
Neighbor: “I bet he would like to watch the game in a suite.”
It made complete sense: Crash wasn’t upset by the crack of the bat, the smell of fresh cut grass or the cheering crowd. He wasn’t pissed off because of the excitement in the air or the grace of the game.
He wasn’t upset that the Rangers can’t hit with men in scoring position. (This might be a stretch…)
Crash was hot and the speakers made his baby brain rattle – that’s it.
Those two things can be fixed in snap – his dad needs to find some rich friends who have a suite.
“Anything for you, Concourse Joe.”