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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Play ball

© Another Day in the Country

My cousin Joe called this last week and said, “Would you girls like to go to a baseball game with us on Friday night? We have two extra tickets!” Would we? Yes! “And if you aren’t that much into the game,” Joe continued, “there’s a really good fireworks show right after the game.” We were already on our way!

I hadn’t been to a professional baseball game for over 35 years and that last time had been in San Francisco. I remember it well because my 8-year-old sat in the spring Bay Area sun and broke out with (what we later discovered was) measles.

The day was forever imprinted on her mind because a lady about three rows ahead of us, reacting to the heat, too, had a heart attack and died right there on the spot. Jana told me later that for the rest of the day she watched her Dad and me like a hawk, (instead of the game) fearful that this is what happened to adults at ball games and her parents might be next!

When I called and told her we were going to Kansas City to see the Royals play the Diamondbacks, she said, “Wonderful. We’re going on our annual Giants pilgrimage to watch them play on Sunday!” So evidently she wasn’t permanently traumatized.

Baseball games have changed so much in the last 30 years. For one thing, the stadium had escalators! Our seats were perfectly placed between third base and home plate. We were just high enough in the stands to have the most wonderful view of the whole field. And if we missed anything, there was this huge screen for replays.

My eyes must have been bugging out of my head as I tried to take in everything new and beautiful. Not only was there a huge screen in front of us but smaller horizontal screens circling the entire stadium. These ribbon screens were filled with lights, blinking colors, gauging our enthusiasm and giving instructions, constantly. Wow! There was a beautiful water fountain across the stadium, rising and falling in time with the music, changing colors, as if all this stimulation wasn’t already enough.

The outfield was beautiful, mowed in a crisscross pattern that made it look like a perfect green checkerboard while the ball diamond itself was covered in some kind of burnt sienna colored surface with perfect white lines and a home plate that the referee kept polished to a higher sheen than my kitchen sink!

When it came time for the players to come out on the field, I heard them being announced but nobody appeared. “It’s up on the screen,” cousin Janet explained. Sure enough, here were larger-than-life shots of the player with all their vital statistics.

Throughout this game there was never a dull moment. Something was always going on and, coming from Ramona, I’d never seen so many happy people all cooperating and doing the same thing in years! There were 34,000 people in this stadium all having a good time, all while the level of blood alcohol was almost nil.

I was impressed! There were whole family groups present with your kids, my kids, your relatives, my friends all having fun. Obviously, these folk were not first-timers like me because half of the stadium was dressed in some shade of blue — most of them sporting the team name. Even the little kids were dressed in team shirts and they all knew what to do as they clapped out certain rhythms and sang chants.

This was a new kind of togetherness. We weren’t just watching a game between two teams, we were all playing together and having a good time. At one point, as the ballplayers on the field briefly conferred, we even all sang along with Garth Brooks — one giant karaoke experience. Even in the Crystal Cathedral, I haven’t seen so many folks in unity.

“It’s how people experience community,” my sister the philosopher said. I thought about this on the way home.

Community was what I hungered for when I moved back to the country. There was some sense of it for me when the old timers were still alive in town; but I find myself searching for that community spirit these days — not just in town but throughout our whole nation.

I’d like to see some good sportsmanship, some kindness and cooperation as we rally round the flag. I certainly don’t need everything or everyone to be the same color, but it would be nice if folks would sing along, learn a similar rhythm, clap and cheer rather than criticize. I’d love to see neighbors who play by the rules and smile at each other while the game of life goes on.

It’s another day in the country, and my dream for peace and brotherhood is scuffed up but still alive. I guess it’s a little more difficult to play ball when there’s only 100 instead of 34,000, but couldn’t we give it a try?

Last modified May 24, 2012

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