“You should enter a ballpark the way you enter a church.” Bill “Spaceman” Lee
Me with California Angels Manager Lefty Phillips in 1970
Today was one of those rare early April Hampton Roads days…it was really a pleasant day. High about 80, partly cloudy and winds from the southwest at 25 MPH. An absolutely wonderful day for the first ball game of the year at Harbor Park. The field looked great in spite of some nasty weather and the damage done to it by thousands of supporters of President Obama when he visited Norfolk the day before the election.
I walked from my car to the ballpark in wonder of the day. I do believe that the Deity Herself had blessed us with this most wonderful of days. I got to the concourse and looked at the field I had visited so many times before. Harbor Park is a parish church of the Church of Baseball, arguably the one true church. Like the Trinity the game is filled with 3’s. Three Strikes, Three Outs, Three bases. Distances between bases and the pitchers mound, all divisible by 3.
I wrote yesterday about the gift that my dad gave me. It was nice to receive it one more time. The Orioles and Nationals did not disappoint. It was a well played game. Orioles starting pitcher Koji Uehara, formerly of the Yomiuri Giants, threw 6 innings giving up one hit, a 2 run home run to Nationals Third Baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Japanese journalists sat at a table on the concourse reporting the story. The final was 6-3 Baltimore. Orioles slugger Nick Markakis belted a two run shot over the right center wall and ever patient Second Baseman Brian Roberts took a ball off the wall deep right center for a triple. Nationals lead off hitter, former Norfolk Tides outfielder Lastings Milledge hit a solo shot off reliever Matt Albers in the top of the 9th. It was scary for a few minutes as it looked like the Nat’s might make get a rally going. In an interesting twist, though there were only 9 hits in the game there were no strike outs.
Sitting in a seat that in a major league park that I could never afford, my time was well spent. I got to wish Orioles Catcher Greg Zaun a good season before the game. He needs it, catchers get the hell beat out of them. It was cool to see little kids looking with awe at players as they signed autographs. I remember being a kid back at Anaheim stadium and having players talk to me, autograph hats, balls, programs was something that I have never forgotten. Seeing the wonder in these kids eyes took me back in time. At the same time and realize that I still have the same sense of wonder that these kids experienced today. I think that every kid need to have this experience. I know that 99.9% will never go on to play in the show. But the lessons that they learn on this hallowed ground, this beautiful diamond are lessons that can be used in all of life. It’s like memorizing Bible verses, but more lot more fun. If only we could make the confirmation process, or the ordination process more like baseball….Hummm… maybe I am on to something here….
The game ended far too soon today, the waether was too nice, the company good. It was nice just to sit back for a couple of hours before the game and take it all in. There were almost 12,000 people there, actually 11,833, but who but the statisticians gives a damn about that?
Opening Day is Monday, the Tides have their home opener on the 20th. Time for church.