The American Pastime

Posted on 16 May 2009

Last night I went to a baseball game, or what I consider to be the quintessential American pastime.  Having grown up attending Red Sox games in the now oldest ballpark in the country, ball games always bring back happy memories of hot summer afternoons and balmy evenings spent stuffing my face with twizzlers and hotdogs, pegging my brother with Cracker Jack, and asking questions about game rules.  I’m still not what I consider a huge baseball devotee; aside from keeping an offhand eye on the Red Sox, I don’t really care what happens (as long as they win while I’m watching) and rarely tune in to games on television.  But I LOVE going to ball games.  Not only because of the fabulously greasy food, flashing lights and humming energy of the ball park, but–as I realized again last night–because of the people.

Ball games, I now understand, are a pleasantly eclectic mix of people–particularly at a park like the Nationals Stadium, where tickets come as cheap as $10 apiece (sadly, these days are long-gone at Fenway; though hearty Boston fans still continue to pay).  While waiting in the “will-call” line yesterday, I began to take in the scene: skinny girls in mini-skirts teetering down the sidewalk in their heels; a frazzled-looking dad leading a hand chain of three little boys dressed up in full sports regalia; small pods of overweight guys in jeans and baseball shirts, already warming up for the game with a beer in hand; ladies with giant, designer sunglasses and trendy handbags walking alongside boyfriends in flip-flops and jeans; and a large group of self-conscious, over-dressed teens gaggling against the brick wall, doing their utmost to look unconcerned.  A few “Wheelmen” (actually, one of them was a woman) from New York, decked out in leather jackets and chains, strode by on their way to the front gate, only steps behind two men in suits who’d obviously come straight from work.  

But once inside, it was the same old story: people enjoying awesomely bad-for-you food and the pure entertainment of the game.  God bless America.

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