Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baseball and Life

It was a beautiful day for a ballgame, and our drive over the Bay Bridge into the South Beach neighbor-hood of San Francisco took us to an ideal location for a game—AT&T Park, located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

With the three of us (Barbara [Giants fan], Kate [neutral], and me [Cubs fan]) covering all bases (so to speak), someone was bound to be happy at the end of the day—even in the unlikely event of a rain out.

We arrived soon after 11:00 for the 12:45 game and began to soak in the whole experience from our seats along the third base side of the field.

[L]ike those special afternoons in summer when you go to Yankee Stadium at two o'clock in the afternoon for an eight o'clock game. It's so big, so empty and so silent that you can almost hear the sounds that aren't there. ~ Ray Miller

I began my walk around the park by starting near home plate, watching the ground crew remove the batting cage and miscella-neous screens and mats.

During my walk, I observed a number of different people who play roles in the preparation for the day's drama.

From this position in the outfield stands, I watched the ground crew finish readying the field. Behind me was a large Coke bottle that contained slides for children and a large baseball glove (photo-graphed from the first base side of the field).

Behind these structures was a food court, including this stand selling cheese-steaks. I wondered whether this business was associated with the late Harry Kalas, who called "Outta Here" for Phillies' home runs.

The concourse was filled with food finders, souvenir seekers, and specialty store shoppers, e.g., Crazy Crab The 'Anti-Mascot' or Build-A-Bear Workshop.

With the quote of Humphrey Bogart in mind: " A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz," I picked up a hot dog, a bratwurst, and an Italian sausage with all the condiments before heading back to my seat.

AT&T Park was chosen as the 2008 Sports Facility of the Year by Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily as part of the inaugural Sports Business Awards program. One of the most beautiful sections in this privately-financed ballpark is this area in right field. Fans can stand in the archways and watch the game for free, a modern variation on the "knot hole gang."

From the stands in right field, I could see people on the walkway stopping for glimpses of the activity on the field. Kayakers and boaters were also getting in position to retrieve any ball hit into "Mc-Covey Cove." (Later that afternoon a home run made it into the Cove. That was "Splash Hit" Number 59 hit by a Giant player.)

From the same position in the right field stands, I saw one of the other groups--the autograph seekers--making one last run at getting Sean Marshall's autograph.

Finally, the photogra-phers were one of the last groups to take their position near the dugouts. (I would love to have that equipment for one day at the ballpark.)

With the support players having completed their pre-game work or participating behind the scenes, the game began.

I think season ticket holders are fortunate to be able to see every home baseball game, but I can’t imagine that their reaction to attending each game is the same as that of a person who sees one or two games a year.

As a “one-timer,” I was as interested in the sensory experience and the preparations by the supporting cast as in the game itself.

And today was one of those days (Giants 4, Cubs 0) that the words of Neville Cardus rang true: "There ought to be some other means of reckoning quality in this the best and loveliest of games; the scoreboard is an ass."

But looking around at the beautiful park on a perfect day for baseball, I guess, as Rick Maksian observed: "Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off. The right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases."

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