Back to that very first time…

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

Earlier this week, I spent a few hours watching several episodes of my  Ken Burns’s Baseball CD, something I tend to do every year right about this time.  Taking the nostalgic journey back through baseball’s past—full of players, teams, and stadiums—seemed like an appropriate thing to do, given that the start of another Major League Baseball season is right around the corner.

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(Photo courtesy of theclio.com)

 

And anyone who has read my blog posts for a while knows that I’m a life-long Chicago White Sox fan, old enough to remember many wonderful (and sometimes not-so-wonderful) moments at old Comiskey Park.

 

From the time my grandfather and uncle took my cousin and me to our first ballgame back somewhere in the late ’50s, I have rooted and cheered, lived and died, with the Sox.

Going to White Sox games was always a special event for one reason or another. From my very visit to Comiskey Park, to the last time I was there before it closed and the team moved across the street to their new ball yard in 1991, the first thing that always hit my senses was the delectable aroma of hot dogs and onions grilling in the concession stands along the lower concourse. Believe me, there was—and is—nothing finer than to have that greet you upon entering the ballpark!

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Lower Concourse (courtesy of flying sock.com)

Seeing the playing field for the first time, as my grandfather held my hand, edging us up the short flight of stairs to the seats behind home plate, was a spectacular image I’ve never forgotten: Green! Perfectly coiffed infield dirt! More green way out there in the outfield! Thousands of dark green seats! And a monster of a scoreboard, sitting quietly, waiting for the action that would follow along soon!

Batting practice and pre-game infield was happening all at once right out there in front of my impressionable self, and my wide-open young eyes couldn’t take it all in fast enough—nor my ears.

The loud crack of the bats connecting squarely with pitched balls. The thumps and pops of the baseballs slamming into the catcher’s mitt or the fielders playing catch out on the distant greensward were new and exciting parts of watching a big league ball game I’d had no previous experience with.

The colors! The White Sox in their classic white and black pinstriped home uniforms were just as I had imagined from the pictures created over the radio. And the few times I had been able to see them on TV (it was black and white then) and now seeing it all in person was almost more than this young boy could manage.

Being able to pick out—in the flesh—my heroes was probably worth the price my grandfather had paid for the ticket that day. We could have walked out of the park right then and there and missed the whole game itself, and I wouldn’t have cared. I had seen Nellie Fox and others warming up and batting just a short distance away, and nothing else really mattered from that point on.

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Nellie Fox (courtesy of baseball hall.com)

I remember that the Baltimore Orioles were the visitors, and they were clad in traveling gray with orange trim. The players seemed so old (I was 8 or 9) and they all went about their duties very business like, with that certain confident air that seemed to make them a cut above all the players who hadn’t made it to the big time—yet.

Soon, the game began, and I don’t really remember who won that day. I’m pretty certain it was a pitchers’ duel, though, since that’s what all Sox games tended to be.

I made it through a very long day at Comiskey Park, and I readily fell asleep once we were on the train back to my home in Indiana afterwards. I’m not sure, but if I were to wager a guess as to what went through my sleep-filled head that night, it would be that someday I wanted nothing more than to be just like those White Sox I’d had the pleasure to see in person for the very first time, playing the greatest game in the world!

Until next time, that’s one good thing…
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(courtesy Pinterest.com)

 

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5 thoughts on “Back to that very first time…

  1. Wonderful! I love hearing stories of one’s first baseball game. There are a lot of things in our lives that ebb and flow, come and go, and just sink away from our memories. But, baseball! Even people who have no deep hold on the game today seem to remember the special moment and the emotion from that first visit to the park … and the first sight of that green, green grass. In a country where so many of us disagree on so many things — from politics to soda — I think baseball joins us together as a people through our shared memories. And, just nine days to go … before we can make some more!

    1. Thank you, Baseball Bloggess, for your very kind comments. Reading them, I’m reminded of those wonderful words spoken by James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams”:
      “People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
      That was kind of like my attending my first game with my grandfather–us linking generations through a common thing such as baseball, and then me doing the same with my own kids, and my son with his sons, and I imagine they’ll each do so with their kids….
      When I write, and think, about that, I realize just how much the game has meant to me.
      Have a wonderful weekend, and let’s get ready for the wonderful ride ahead! 🙂

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