Initially, my cynical thought was that sports impact my family by requiring me to often be two or more places at once. How’s that for an answer? But then I remembered the good part of sports, for all the grumbling that I do, and I’m glad I recorded the story below. When I look back on my life, I know I will wish we made the time for more baseball games.
Last night we took the family to a Phillies game, the first one ever for Nate and Andrew. At age eight, Andrew is the only legitimate sports fan in this family. The rest of us are just social sports fans who really don’t care all that much. Andrew cares. He cares so much. In a family of, “Eh, good enough,” I find it both admirable and beguiling.
Yesterday was also the first day our lawn service came, and despite my constant nagging of, “Pick up your toys! The mowers are coming!” Andrew’s beloved baseball glove somehow got left outside and shredded beyond repair. For a baseball player, losing your only glove before the first game of the season is kind of a big deal. And for Andrew, it was a very big deal. My friends, as usual, came to my rescue, and we were able to embark on our Phillies adventure knowing that Andrew had some viable spare glove options for today’s game.
I am always happy to get the kids out of their sanitized Chester County bubble. Just the very act of driving to the city is almost entertainment enough. Unfortunately, the notorious Philadelphia traffic was extra challenging, and after a stressful work week and more traffic heading home only to turn around again, Ed was not his usual chipper self. Between the shredded glove and the stressed husband, I was ready to call the whole thing off before we even started. However, we are not quitters. Okay, maybe I’m kind of a quitter, but I was significantly outnumbered, so on we pressed. As we approached the park and heard a street performer play, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” I knew we made the right decision.
Back when I worked during the glory days of the financial services industry, I viewed every Philadelphia sports team from the finest seats available. Let’s just say our cheap seats last night were a far cry from my seats with the premium view and the lovely man who kept bringing me shrimp and vodka tonics while I returned from my own private bathroom. But I am a woman of the people now.
Even with the cheapest seats, the game still cost a bundle. For dinner, we got five cheese steaks, five drinks, and a couple pretzels for $72. That’s like taking your family to McDonald’s for $72 and not even getting french fries for everyone. Water was $4.25 a bottle. Parking was $20. And the obnoxious Mets fans throwing their half-opened mustard packages on the ground dangerously close to my purse were a free bonus.
I will admit, baseball used to be my least favorite sport to watch before my child started playing it. I grew up listening to Harry Kalas’s melodic voice calling the game, and more often than not, I fell asleep listening to that voice. The Phillies are a part of me, undeniably so, but I really didn’t fall in love with the sport of baseball until much later in life. It just seemed so long, so slow. (I believe “watching paint dry” was the phrase I often used.) Ironically, it is precisely that long, slow pace which I now find so appealing. I still don’t know enough about baseball to comment on it intelligently, but at least now I like it.
The Phillies did not win, much to Andrew’s dismay. He held on to hope the entire game, reciting every prior come-from-behind Phillies win in his young memory. His enthusiasm and hopefulness warm my jaded little heart. Despite the numerous obstacles and hefty price tag, I am so glad we went. It was the perfect way to kick off the beginning of Andrew’s baseball season today.
Life is not a spelling bee, where no matter how many words you have gotten right, if you make one mistake you are disqualified. Life is more like a baseball season, where even the best team loses one-third of its games and even the worst team has its days of brilliance. Our goal is not to go all year without ever losing a game. Our goal is to win more than we lose, and if we can do that consistently enough, then when the end comes, we will have won it all. — Harold Kushner
Photograph by the very talented Kerry McShane-Kay.