For context, especially about my sheer elation at Mustard winning a race, see here.
I do a lot of things by myself. Most of the time I am fine with that. It allows me to meander, to lollygag, perchance to dilly-dally. It’s fine.
There was something about going to a baseball game alone that took “quirky loner” dangerously close to “anti-social and pathetic.” I went anyway. The universe rewarded this brave act with a beautiful day and with “David.” I had the best time I have ever had at a baseball game.
It was Kids’ Opening Day, and so there were lots and lots of kids. This was good. These are my people. It was going to be fine.
I settled into my seat next to a family with a boy, about seven years old. He commented on every pitch, knew something about every batter, and was a whiz at checking the scoreboard when he didn’t know something. He kept an eye on the scores of other teams, especially the Red Sox / Yankees game. The best thing about him was that he was full of joy. We chatted like we’d known each other for years and that joy was infectious. Except for the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays won, it was a perfect day.
David predicted Adam Jones was about to hit a home run, and Adam Jones hit a home run. He predicted another batter would strike out, and the batter struck out. He was on a roll.
He was wearing a Steve Pearce jersey. I’ve been considering buying a Steve Pearce jersey! He danced to every song. I taught him the Y-M-C-A dance. He was thrilled when the Wave started.
Every time there was a bugle/”Charge” he wanted it to be a double “Charge,” for his sister. Because she likes double “Charge”! The Oriole Bird visited. Foul balls came into our section about four times — one landing in the glove of the man right in front of David’s father. The cameraman came by and David and his dad were up on the big screen! The frozen lemonade vendor came by. Frozen lemonade is his favorite! I love lemonade! When the condiment races started, he cheered . . . “MUSTARD”! We cheered together. I took video and it’s almost worthwhile to hear his pure joy, but there must be something that prevents recording because the video itself is worthless. Nonetheless, Mustard won!
I told David that I always cheer for Mustard and I was happy when he did. He said he always cheers for Ketchup but for some reason today it felt like Mustard would win. I am not making that up.
His family asked if he was bothering me. I told them he was making my day. It was fine. They said he’d just told them he made a new friend.
Besties. For nine innings, we were besties.
At the seventh inning stretch, the family went for a walk and an unpleasant man brought his family to sit in their seats. This wasn’t fine. David wasn’t there for “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” and I figured they’d found somewhere else to sit. But they came back, and Unpleasant Man left with minor disruption. It was fine again.
At some point in the middle of all this, I remembered last season when I’d decided I would buy season tickets and would go even if it were by myself. I’d rather do something alone than be with someone who’s not having fun. But when it came down to the day, it didn’t seem fine.
I also thought about the justification for new rules to speed up the pace of the play, one such justification being that it would appeal more to children. When I asked David how he knew so much about baseball, he said he learned it from watching with his granddad and his dad. He spent well over three hours completely thrilled and in the moment, not once playing with any sort of electronic device or showing any sign of boredom. I think he could have lasted longer, completely happy. When things were quiet, he found something in the stadium that was interesting: the new broadcast station’s logo, the clock that enforces the new rules, a bird circling over head. Something tells me that left to his own devices, he would find joy in meandering, lollygagging, or dilly-dallying.
I went to the ball game alone and was rewarded with the gift of seeing it through a child’s eyes. I had the best time I have ever had at a ball game. It was more than fine.
Have you ever pushed yourself outside your comfort zone and been glad you did?