random riffs

Minor league baseball and saving my kids’ skulls…

It’s common knowledge here at crazedparent that the family likes baseball. While a good major league game tickles my fancy, I’m also a fan of minor league ball. The kind that conjures up thoughts of Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham, with wacky between-inning contests (“Smash for Cash”), ridiculous mascots (Gigante the washed-out orange-colored monkey) and small-town, old-fashioned fun.

Triple-A ball — players just shy of the getting called up to the show — is intense. You can see rookies before they become big names. And sometimes, when you’re sitting in the first row at field level, a player might shamelessly flirt with you when he should be manning his base. Even when you’re pregnant. With a big belly. And your husband is sitting right next to you. A few months later you might even see that player in the starting lineup of a top-notch major league team and you’ll say, “Hey, isn’ that…” and before you can finish your sentence, you’re husband will answer, “Yep, that’s him.” And you sense a little machismo because his lady was eye candy to a now famous ball player.

I digress.

Triple-A ball in intense. Single-A teams are raw and the players are learning the ropes. They make brutal errors and are naively disrespectful to umpires. And it’s sort of fun to watch the players figure it all out.

I’m particularly fond of Single-A ball because you get a behind-the-scenes view of the game. You see scouts tracking pitchers and signals and calls being made with no obstruction because you’re so close to the field. And sweet jesus, the local color. It’s like walking into the proverbial time warp.

Here’s the thing. When you’re soaking in every drop of detail, you sometimes miss a pop-fly heading over the net behind home plate. And it’s only until you hear your husband yelling, “Heads up! Heads up!” that you realize a baseball is barreling towards you. And the skulls of your two kids seated right beside you. When you quickly look up, you realize that you don’t have time to think.

With that, I threw my hand straight up in line of the falling baseball and as the crowd around me yelled, I could only hear the eery sound of leather pounding the palm of my hand, the drop of the ball on the ground and the people clamoring around us to catch it. Because, you know, who can pass up grabbing a foul ball. Even if it’s only Single-A.

I stretched my arm out and tried to open and close my hand and fingers, scarlet red and aching from the impact of the baseball. An EMT quickly appeared along our row asking me if I needed assistance. I pondered his question for a few seconds since he was wearing gold Elvis sunglasses along with his navy blue jumpsuit. But I resisted. My hand — and perhaps most important, my the skulls of my kids — had escaped serious injury.

The boys had no idea what had just happened. Why? Because they were watching the game.