Friday, November 9, 2012

My Long Lost Love Affair with Baseball

In a yellow paged photo album hidden somewhere at my mom's house is a picture of me from when I was about 5 years old.  I'm standing in front of my Aunt and Uncle's roses with a giant grin on my face, and a new Gold and Green Oakland A's hat on my head.  

Baseball.  It used to be mine and my dads thing.  He grew up in Seattle, but the A's were his team.  My brother wasn't born until I was 7, so from birth to 7, I was Daddy's girl and did all the boy things with him, like go to the hardware store and watch the games together.  

Every year, when other little girls were going to tea parties and getting manicures for their birthday parties, we were going to baseball games. 

As I got older, my love for baseball grew.  I knew all the players and their stats.  I collected baseball cards.  I had pins and hats and posters and pennants all over my room.  

1989 World Series.  

Battle of the Bay.  

Bash Brothers.

It was an amazing year for Bay Area Baseball, despite the Earthquake.

Where was I during the earthquake?  
Making prank phone calls with a friend to a local grocery store. I didn't even feel it.

I was so jealous of all the kids you saw on TV at the playoffs and World Series games, but I was still glued to the TV.  How often does YOUR team go to the World Series?

Spoiler alert....the A's, not the Giants won that series. 
I was one happy little girl baseball fan. 

Then early 1991, my dad died very suddenly at age 33.  

Words cannot even describe how devastating that was. 

Some days, it's still so painful. 

 I tried to still watch baseball, but love I had for was gone.  

Maybe I only loved it because it was something special I shared with my dad? 

Maybe I really loved it but the void of my dad not being there were too painful?

I love watching sports, I always have. 

I loved watching football (GO 49ers!!!) and Basketball (GO Kings!!!), but baseball just fell to the wayside. 

As I got older, I developed a bitter hatred of baseball.  I couldn't stand to watch it.  I never went to games.  I didn't even like to be around people who liked baseball.  Too many memories. It was a painful reminder that my baseball partner was gone forever.

Then I met Dave.  He played baseball all his life.  He grew up loving the Giants (rivalry relationship in the making?).  For a while he played softball, and I went to his games.  Once we went to an A's game with a group of his co-workers, but I tried to just act like the girl who hates sports and was just there for the beer. We never really watched baseball on TV.  Not sure if that's because of my negative attitude towards baseball or what.  So many of my friends love baseball.  I wanted to love it with them and go to games, but I just couldn't.  My heart wouldn't let me. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I would rather be given experiences and vacations rather than any material possessions.  Birthday and Christmas lists always include trips to Tahoe, Disneyland, or Paris...or experiences like BBQs at the beach, fancy restaurants, or concert tickets.  To me, a thing is nice, but memories last forever.  I know I'm crazy, but hotel reservations get me more excited than jewelry boxes, hahaha!  

(Not that I'm discouraging jewelry boxes whatsoever...Keep them coming!)

So this year, Dave surprised me with tickets to the A's Giants game for my birthday.  Luxury suite tickets, complete with beer and food and sodas.  So cool!

I quietly mentioned how my dad used to take me to the game all the time for my birthday, and I think he felt a little bad.  I don't think i really ever mentioned it.  It was just one of those painful memories that I kept locked deep down in the basement of my heart.  

Did I still want to go?  It was ok if I didn't.  

No, I want to go.  I can't keep living my life like this.  I need to face things instead of keeping them buried.  It's time to start making new memories and enjoying life.  

We went to the game and I had so much fun!  We sat in the suite that we shared with a family.  It was so cute to see the little girls all dressed up in the team gear and stuffing themselves with way too many sodas and hot dogs. It was defiantly an amazing baseball experience, and we had our own private bathroom and our suite had a host who took care of anything we needed!

It was such an emotional night for me.  So many memories at that park.  I did my best not to cry, but I shed a few tears.  Happy tears.  Sad tears.  Healing tears.  

I could do it.  I could enjoy baseball again.  It's not the same, but it's a new chapter of my life, and a new and different way to enjoy it. 

It's different because as much as I was an A's fan in the past, I decided that it is something that needs to stay in my past.  Those memories are in a cherished part of my heart that I want to keep there forever.  I don't want to add to them.  New chapter of my life, new team, new memories.  

We went to a couple more Giants games in the regular season, including the awesome Star Wars Day! Every time, I had so much fun, and I fell in love with baseball all over again.

We were lucky enough to be chosen in the ticket lottery to buy tickets to game 6 of the NLCS.  It had always been a dream to go to a post season ever since watching the 1989 season.  I was so excited.  I was like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time!  

The morning of the game, I packed enough jackets, scarves, and gloves to clothe a small country.  Going to games in the bay area can be so unpredictable.  One minute is sunny and 75* and the next minute the fog rolls in, the wind picks up, and it starts misting.  Bay Area cold is so COLD.  

The drive to the game was pretty uneventful, and just a little bit of traffic.  There was a chance of rain, but the sky couldn't make up it's mind.

We tailgated for a bit before the game.  Nothing crazy.  No grills and tents and seating for 20.  Just the two of us and a cooler and some foods I could eat without getting sick.  

GF Pumpkin Cider
Quinoa Edamame Salad from the good I'm going to make my own knock off recipe

We got to the game just after the gates had opened.  The crowd was a little bit more mellow than I had anticipated.  I think everyone was scared because this was a do or die game.  

I saw this shirt and knew that my girlfriend needed it.  
Saying that she has a crush on him is a drastic understatement.  

We got the orange towels before the game.  You should have seen the cloud of orange lint flying around the stadium when people first started waving them.  

We got to our seats, and had a great view of the field, the stadium, and the bay. 
We may not have been at field level, but at least we could see the entire field!
A close-up of the Post Season Symbol on the Field!

For the National Anthem, they brought out a giant flag that covered much of the field.  It was so beautiful and totally gave me chills, and brought tears to my eyes. 

Earlier I had told Dave how cool it would be if Metallica sang at the game.  I didn't get my wish, but James Hetfield, lead singer of Metallica, came out on the field and got the fans excited and called "Play Ball."  


The fans really got into the game.  There was a guy with a giant mohawk that he dyed orange and black.  Everyone was wearing Giants gear and orange and black, except for 4 lonely Cardinals fans sitting a few rows in front of us.  The atmosphere was electrifying.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.

A tiny, adorable fan!!!

Sunset is so beautiful in San Francisco!

"I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch 'em roll away again"

San Francisco fog rolling down over the top of the stadium
The Giants won.  The crowd was nuts!  And of course, they played one of the best songs ever, just like they do after every game.  I love that song.  It reminds me of my Grandma who grew up in Marin County, and walked the Golden Gate Bridge the day it opened, and adores Tony Bennett and always played him when my mom was a kid and still to this day.  

When we left, all the palm trees were wrapped in orange lights.  We saw the news interviewing people and someone was holding a sign that said JOE BUCK SUCKS. 


I'm so glad to have baseball back in my life.  It's really healed a dark part of my heart. 

To me, it's like hanging out with your best friend from second grade after 20 years of losing contact with them.  It's the same in many ways, but so very very different, but in a good way.

I'm really excited for next season!  Opening day at AT&T park.  Can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Such a nice story..Baseball is awesome. It's my favorite sport to watch. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it was for you to lose your father at such a young age. :( Thanks for sharing..