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30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

There's A Playground at Slugger Field



And a carousel, but I will get to that later.

Growing up, I looked forward so much to going to old Cardinal stadium to watch the Louisville Redbirds play baseball games.  If you are 35 and older, maybe, you will remember for sure guys like Vince Coleman, Willie McGhee and Andy Van Slyke who played at Louisville then later for the parent St. Louis Cardinals (Van Slyke almost killed my sister Jennifer Hayes with a foul ball, if she hadn't moved her head at the last second...it would have been bad).  Two of my favorites, however, were Dave Kable and Gene Roof.  Kable seemed to hit 100 homeruns one summer of my youth and Roof was the son of a former major leaguer was seemed like the consumate pro.  He just played and was good, just never good enough for a long stay in the Big Show. 

You would get your $3.50 general admission ticket and arrive the day of the game and be able to have good seats, in the shade.  Usually in prime foul ball territory and there was that guy there with the net, come on, you remember that guy.  I wonder how many foul balls he actually caught.  But then, you went down to the dugout and got the baseball players to autograph your program.  If you were real lucky they would give you a ball (I never got one).

We went usually on cheap hot dog not, or when the San Diego Chicken was there (I saw him a few times) and was there when they broke the attendance record over overe 35,000.  You went to the games, you did all of those cool things and you sat in your seat and watched the game.  There was rarely a time you went to the concession stand and if you did, it was about 3-5 innings into the game.

The other night, I attended a game at Slugger field and I have been before, many times, but this time I had both of my kids on "Girl Scout" Night.  We arrive and immediately we get their bobble head dolls because you want your child to have the full effect of "fun", I mean, our kids don't have enough junk as it is and to be honest, like I don't have enough junk as it is.

No sooner than we get to our seats, we begin the first of multiple times to the concession stand.  My son loves baseball and watches the Silver Creek baseball team practice and play often, but even he had enough after about 4 innings.  I turn around and my wife and children along with their cousins, the Rays' (except my friend Nick Ray) have gone to play at the playground and the carousel...at the baseball park.

The stuff is there and I have no problem with my wife taking them to get their minds off the game because it is a part of the over all experience, but what about the game?  You spend too much to sit in seats at Slugger Field that don't face home plate and right smack dab in the sun.  I don't see kids trying to get autographs, in fact, I have seen kids told to get away, if you don't have a ticket for that area you have to move away.  Don't get an autograph, go ride the carousel!!!

The way I felt that night and while writing this is a bit of sadness.  My children won't get to know about the pleasure of simplicity and if they do it will be a painful lesson, more than I had to endure.  But also I felt a little like my Grandfather who complained about the designated hitter and other modernizations of the late 1970's when it came to baseball.

Maybe I should let it go.  I mean, The Chicken (got his autograph too!) being used to draw in fans in the 1980's would have appalled my Grandpa Gilbert Hunter.  He would have argued why have this sideshow to bring in fans, there is a baseball game.  In actuallity, the carousel and playground might be less of a "ruination" of the game than some of the things I witnessed as a youth.  Maybe it is the burden of aging, we forget what it was like to be a kid and we complain how "things are getting worse". 

Maybe I should sit with my kids and explain the game of baseball and every once in awhile go ride the carousel with them too and not complain that things have changed because they always do.