Here we are, less than 2 weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training and I’m sitting here in the Florida sunshine and am so excited for it to start up. I was going through the pictures from last season and started to think back over it all and what stood out for me as highlights.
This was the first year where I didn’t work full time (or at all) so Ross and I had the time to see more games than ever before. I also had a chance to go to three games with my friends. I attended all of Spring Training and even if I didn’t go to the game, I was sitting over at the Carpenter Complex watching the stars of tomorrow…
There were a lot of things that stood out to me, moments I will always look back at with a smile on my face. I’m not going to number them as I love them all like my “children” and could never picka favorite.
—Meeting and getting the autographs of six of the girls from the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. They were trail blazers made famous by the movie, “A League of Their Own”. It struck me how they still love the game. Ruth Hartman, in the red Reading Phillies jersey, went on to be the Queen of Baseballtown. She’s at nearly every Reading Phillies game and I have heard from players that she doesn’t hold back on her opinion of what they are doing right or wrong.
—Two times getting picked for “fan participation” events in Clearwater. I won a Threshers jersey for being a designated driver one night and the other, I had to go down on the field and wear a bicycle helmet with a plunger attached to it while my partner threw life preservers at me as I attempted to catch them with the plunger. It was fun and I got a free haircut coupon out of the event. (And NO, there are no pictures of me with the plunger on my head.)
—A family affair. We went to see the Lakewood BlueClaws play the Hagerstown Suns in Hagerstown. We were sitting at the top of the stadium where we could get the evening breeze and about half way through the game a nice older couple came and sat next to us to enjoy the air.
The gentleman leaned over after hearing me cheer for Travis “Moose” Mattair and asked if, “We had a boy playing.” We said no, but we were big fans of the BlueClaws. He informed us that the Suns’ Blake Kelso was his grandson.
They had traveled to Maryland from Texas the week before to see Kelso play as one of the five Suns in the South Atlantic League All Star Game. Kelso is one of the top hitters for the Suns.
There was quite a contingent of Kelso’s family members sitting down in front of us. This more “human” side of baseball became more evident as Kelso came up in the bottom of the tenth with a chance to win it for the Suns. Sadly, he fouled out. What stuck out for me was seeing his family gathered in the center of the stands all standing with their hands clasped in front of them, hoping and praying for a hit…It made it all so real, how they are all on the edge of making it, so close to achieving their dreams and the dreams of their families. I took the picture above of Kelso’s family when he came up at the bottom of the tenth. It really hit me, how they stood there hands clasped in front of them, hoping their boy could be the hero.
—Bark in the Park. I’m a dog person. My dogs are my “furry children” and this special day to take them to the park with us so that they could enjoy the game with us was beyond amazing. As you can see in the picture above, they had their little pink baseball jersey’s on and their Reading Phillies leashes. (Veronica on the right, had had her little pink baseball cap on for a while…but just wouldn’t keep it on for the picture.) I had tried to take them 2 years ago but that game was never played. They kept the dogs out in the picnic pavilion and just before game time, the sky opened up and there was a horrible thunderstorm and the game was postponed. This year, the weather was beautiful and we could sit in the regular seats.
The girls actually watched over half the game until the people in the seats in front of us showed up in the fifth inning and when they sat down, the girls couldn’t see over them. After that, being the good girls they are, they curled up together and went to sleep. It was an amazing experience.
—My birthday home run. I don’t know if anything will ever top this as far as “birthday presents”. For my birthday Ross took me to a Reading Phillies game. I ran into Derrick Mitchell before the game and I happened to mention my birthday was coming up the next week and to “Hit a homer for me!” He laughed and said “I will”. We all know that that NEVER HAPPENS, right?
So when he came up during the 4th, Ross was recording Derrick’s at bat and I jokingly said to him, “Here comes my homer.” The next pitch, Derrick fouls it off…then the next pitch…smacks the ball and it’s going, going, no wait it’s not far enough but then just in the nick of time (well for the Phils anyway)the Trenton center fielder reaches up and the ball bounces off his glove and over the wall! Don’t believe me…Well heck, why don’t you watch it yourself!
Click HERE for the video
That was BEYOND awesome and will likely never be repeated.
—The Harry Kalas statue. We didn’t make it to the unveiling, but we were there the next day. It’s a classy statue and quite a good likeness. It was moving to see. I was also lucky enough to get there and have my picture taken with it with no other people in the frame. Good times.
–My new camera. It’s got a great shutter speed so I can take pictures of a pitcher and get all of his wind-up and release. I can also sit up in the back of the 300 level at Citizens Bank Park and get a picture of Hunter Pence.
—And my favorite experience? Getting to meet and may be know a little, the players themselves. It is amazing to watch these guys getting to chase the dream and may be some day, catch it. This is what makes baseball special to me. Watching these guys put their heart and soul into working towards that magical place known as the Big Show. That’s what is is all about and I feel special to have a chance to see it happen.