Friday, April 17, 2009

I Felt Like I Was A Kid Again!

So there we were….a collection of seven business contemporaries….ending a day of meetings with marketing personnel for the Minnesota Twins (Blue Bunny ice cream is the “Official Ice Cream of the Minnesota Twins”) in a roped off area, within yards of batting practice on the Minnesota Twins baseball field inside of the Metrodome.

In our group, there was a Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, a Senior Advertising Manager, a Trade Development Director, a Web Designer, an entrepreneur, a Marketing Associate Manager, and an Account Executive.
Yet, for about 45 minutes, we were schoolchildren, completely enamored by the young athletes warming up for the game. Over the course of our time in the “holding pen”, several of the players signed baseballs and chatted with each of us. We grinned silly, little 12-year old grins, thrust out our baseballs and Sharpie pens, and snapped photo after photo. When baseball great, Tony Oliva, stopped by, we whispered “That’s Tony Oliva! That’s Tony Oliva!!” He signed our baseball, too, and chatted about how he loves ice cream.

What is it about baseball that makes us feel like kids again? All of us had stories we shared all day in anticipation of our meeting the team and all of us shared even more stories as we watched the game and, then, wearily regaled play-by-play details as we trudged back to our hotels afterward, agonizing over a heartbreaking loss of the Twins to the Toronto Blue Jays.

But it is baseball. Baseball seems to stir up something in all of us that makes us want to open up and share the stories of, “I remember when…” Baseball impacts our lives from the day we enter our first ballpark and catch Baseball Fever – for which there is no cure.

Being from St. Louis, my stories are mostly of the Cardinals and the old Bush stadium. The Cardinals offered an incentive program where they would send a couple of sets of free tickets if you earned a certain grade point average. Each year, it was a big deal for me to get those tickets. My dad and I would use them and, despite the fact that they were usually in the “nosebleed section”, we still had a great time. Dad would teach me how to score the program book: “K” was a strike out, “BB” was a base-on-balls, and a “DP 6-4-3” was a classic double play on a hit to the shortstop (6) who tosses it to the second baseman (4) who, then throws it to the first baseman (3). Each player on the field is assigned a number, starting with the pitcher (1), then the catcher (2), the first baseman (3) and so on….. I became such an expert at scoring that I scored for my high school boys’ baseball team for two years. Today I am a little rusty but can still keep a pretty mean card.

Those were the days. For me – it was the late 70’s and through the 1980s. The days of Ozzie Smith, Darryl Porter, Tommy Herr, and so many players who stand out in my memory. It was the 1982 and 1987 World Series (coincidentally – it was the Twins that the Cardinals defeated for the title!) and all the excitement surrounding them. What fun!

Sometimes I wonder, as baseball season begins anew, maybe all the world needs these days is a little more baseball. A ‘dog, a beer, a bag full of dry-roasted peanuts and a big ol’ foam finger seems to take the edge off of anybody. The crack of a bat, the “CHARGE” rally cry, and the camaraderie of people pulling together for a common goal seems to be more human than we give it credit. Can you be angry or vengeful or oppressed or evil when you are overlooking nine heroes on a field of green? No – because you are feeling young and innocent – just like a kid.
Until next time, I remain.....1SweetMama

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