America’s Pastime

Some things never leave you, they stay with you and give you cause to think of them, almost on a daily basses. Horse riding and horses in general, are never far from my thoughts. I’m not a great horseman or rider, I only did it at school, for a one year in 1973, a whole year and I loved it so much, it has never left me. What had happened was, by 1973 the teachers had given up on us and tried to find things for us to do outside the school, away from them. Bless them or damn then? I’m not sure. Bless… I think. I finally got back up in the saddle when my niece got me two horse riding sessions for my birthday. It felt amazing after all them years.

Some things never leave you; Baseball will never; leave me. I’ve watched it on TV and loved the game. The thing I have learned about myself, is my love for history. I just plain and naturally like looking back and I like nostalgia. Any game I like, I love to hear the old timers talking about the old days and old heroes. Cricket and Football, or in this story, Baseball. A couple of years ago I was on holiday with the family in Florida, it may have been our six or seventh time. We had done all the parks, many times and wanted to try something different. I suggested going to a ball game, Baseball. No one was keen, but they decided to humour me. It was an hour and a bit, straight drive from our villa, so it wasn’t going to be a problem. I checked online to see who was playing. The Tampa Bay Rays were at home to The Cleveland Indians and there was plenty of tickets, so no need to book.

We set off for an evening game, think it was about seven o’clock. The sky was very dark in the West, the direction we were heading. Once or twice I thought about turning back, especially when the rain came down like stair rods. But, we kept going and wonder of wonders, the stadium has a roof on it. Kathy was a bit miffed because she had said to keep driving and if the game was off, we could just go shopping. Katie likes to shop.

We parked in the stadium car park, didn’t cost us anything, we were too early and the parking staff hadn’t arrived yet. I tried to pay them later and the guy just laughed and said, you’re in now and told me not to worry about it. This was just the start of the warmth and generosity we received from the whole organisation. The rain had stopped and the sun was out with a vengeance. The stadium wasn’t open yet so we had to hang about the entrance and the club shop. The shop opened first and we piled into the air conditioned haven and spent a few bucks on caps t-shirts and memorabilia. Kathy finally getting to do some shopping.

Then the ticket office opened and we went over to buy our seats, Baseball can be cheep or very expensive, we bought good seats behind the dugout, not too deer. The girl at the box office must have thought, by our accents, that we were from Cleveland and soled us tickets to the away team dugout, so we were in amongst the Cleveland fans wearing all our brand new Tampa Bay gear. Good job it wasn’t a British football match.

Before the game started we had a good look round the inside of the stadium. The club museum was really special. All the photos of old players, the history of Baseball, I felt like Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams. We bought hot dogs and chilly dogs and soda, while some folks hearing our accents, asked us where we were from, every one of them, genuinely pleased that we had come to the Baseball and telling us to enjoy the game. That seemed to be the mantra; enjoy the game.

I can’t imagine what it must be like before the World Series, because this game in the middle of an American League series, midway through the season was just amazing. From the throwing out of the ceremonial first pitch by a local US soldier, who had been badly injured in a car crash, to the singing of the national anthem. There were old timers, I think, employed by the club, handing out badges to little kids, some who were at their first ball game. It was just magical. They call Baseball, America’s Pastime. If you ever get the chance to go to a game, you will see why. We watched a fine game that day. The Rays narrowly loosing out by one run, but wining the series, I think 2-1. I hope we go back one day, I dream about those hot dogs

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