So… what to do on Mother’s Day. My husband was wondering and I was just shrugging my shoulders at him when I heard from the folks at the Rays. Would we like to attend a Rays game on Mother’s Day?
*Cue high fives all around.*
Um, yes we WOULD!
It’s kind of the perfect idea. Everyone is happy, we all spend time together, some beer is involved, the kids get to run the bases after the game and there are no long waits for a fancy, shmancy over-priced brunch.
Wait. Can we go back to the high fives? Oh, my 9 year old. Going to the Trop literally makes his life. He is beyond pumped for Sunday. He’s been staring down the Rays magnet schedule on the frig.
“Mom, mom, MOM. They need to get through this series with Toronto and then it’s a three day series against the Padres and WE get to see the last game of the series and they have been playing well and Longoria is awesome so I’m thinking it’s a win FOR SURE. Mom. MOM!! Did you hear me? Mom.”
So, that’s where we’ll be on Sunday. And while my kid is staring down the game, I will be admiring my new Rays flower pot. I’m kind of obsessed with getting one. Isn’t it super cute?
Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms out there who love their kids’ passion for something so much that a day watching them enjoy that passion truly makes your day, too.
The Rays were kind enough to provide my family with four tickets, some food and a parking pass (which we don’t technically need since parking is free for cars with four or more on Sunday anyway). Thank-you, Rays!!
When we transplanted our New England family to Tampa eight years ago, I thought our family’s love for the Red Sox would transplant easily, too. Nope. Like something grown from his own sandy garden of Floridian soil, my 9 year old son has tended his love for the Rays for most of his life. He has a poster of The Trop on his wall, Longoria’s T-shirts are stuffed into his drawers and he carries an old, worn Rays backpack everyday to school. The Rays are something he has adopted, watched loyally on TV and emulated in our backyard with wiffle balls, pop flies over the house and whispered replays.
So, when I got an email from the marketing folks at the Rays asking if I would come to Opening Day and watch the game from their Blogger’s Suite, all I could think of was my son. And how perfect this match was, really.
I kept the secret though. I didn’t tell him that I was going to spring him from school on Tuesday afternoon. Dressing him in his favorite Rays t-shirt that morning was nothing new. But finding his mom dressed in her Rays t-shirt, in the school’s front office in the middle of the day, was most definitely something new.
He asked hurried details and reread the day’s itnerary all the way down to the game. We got there 2 hours early, and that was fine by him. We circled the park and laughed at the booming music, the tail-gating, the sea of blue jerseys and smiling faces. Once inside, he wanted to go directly to the suite. So, we did. And, once we were there, my son wanted nothing to do with any socializing. He wanted to watch the game and take in every single detail on the field. Forget the chit-chat. Opening Day? For the Rays? Come on, people. It’s not Spring Training any longer. This is serious business. He sat front and center and ignored everything but the game.
They didn’t win, as much as I hoped that they would. But that was OK. My 9 year old assured himself me that there were so many more games left in the season. And we would be back (“Right? Right, mom?”) and we would see a win. Because that’s the best part about baseball. There are enough games that there’s time to sit and savor the experience. We can munch our popcorn and watch the flow and appreciate it’s calm process and deliberate order.
Tampa has become a very comfortable spot to raise my family. But, for my son,Tampa is home. And The Trop is a familiar, magical spot that he comes back to every season. A place that he knows and studies on TV and remembers from seasons before. On Opening Day, my son was back in his element. A home I never anticipated–but his home, still.
On our way out the door, the very kind folks at The Trop gave us some fun giveaways that will be available to fans at future games.
The David Prive Cy Young Figurine will be given away on April 6th when the Rays play the Cleveland Indians.
The Astro Bobblehead will be given away on April 21st when the Rays play the Oakland Athletics.
The Joe Maddon Garden Gnome (MY personal favorite, love it!) will be given away on April 24th when the Rays play the Yankees.
All opinions in this blog post are my own. The Rays gave me two tickets to the Opening Day game and a few giveaways but I was not given any paid compensation for my blog post or tweets.
My son loves baseball. No, he really loves baseball. He has stacks of hardback books about MLB baseball history, players, ballparks and everything in between. He pages through it all slowly, carefully, absorbing each little bit. He also likes to hack into my father’s MLB account and pour over online box scores. Then he grabs his wiffle ball bat and ball, heads outdoors and replays it all in the backyard. He watches games whenever we’ll let him. Our DVR is filled with MLB games from the weeks before. And during the off season, I’ve even caught him completely focused on some black and white World Series game from the 50s. Really?
“Mom, this is awesome.”
He’s been like this about baseball for a couple years. But before that it was Star Wars (he knew every actor’s name or puppeteer and who played what voice and what happened in every single scene). Before that it was the digestive system (somewhere I have three year old video of him explaining the small intestine) and before that it was planets (some of his first words were from the solar system).
Anyway. Back to baseball.
So I decided to sit down with him this afternoon just to see what he knew and get it on film. Not surprisingly, his baseball knowledge was endless. He could have probably gone on for hours. Really.
I’m not sure what to say about it all. I just hope he funnels all this energy and focus into curing cancer or finding an alternative energy source or something someday. Because he certainly doesn’t know his times tables as well as he knows THIS stuff.
Anyway, gather your baseball fans and take a look. They will appreciate this.
And if you don’t really get baseball, that’s ok. You’ll get the idea just from the first minute or so.
And my apologies if this is a little “my kid is so amazing, you all MUST come see, and watch me beam with pride”. I love him. He loves this. So I want to hold him up over my head and tell him that whatever he loves is so very awesome. That’s all.
A few weeks back, my family and I took a break from beach time on the Cape and drove into Boston for the day. What for? Well, if you don’t know already, my son is an avid baseball fan. So we decided to take a tour of Fenway Park. It was a magical day. We found a new bar/restaurant located under Fenway where we could sit and look over the field itself while enjoying our sandwiches. We walked around it’s exterior picking up souvenirs and snapping pictures. And then we spent a very interesting hour inside the park, which culminated with some time sitting in the monster seats.
One of the most interesting stops, however, was our time sitting in the Press Box. Our tour guide told some fantastic stories about the history of the ball park. I am no baseball freak, but these stories are great. And I was very lucky to have decided to pull out my flip and capture these stories here.
So if you are any kind of baseball fan at all, I suggest you watch. It’s about 10 minutes long but these stories are really very cool. Plus our guide has the most legit Boston accent you’ll ever hear. He was the perfect guide.
My son loves baseball. He loves it so much in fact that I feel remiss as a mother and a blogger for not having mentioned this fact in detail here before. It is an enormous, entirely captivating, thoroughly significant part of his life, his thinking, his playing, his focus, his every day purpose.
You think I’m exaggerating.
My six year old has a battered, dog eared, ripped and taped coffee table book about ballparks that my mother gave him for his last birthday. It is now in three pieces, it’s binding completely unraveled. And he reminds me that it is out of date. Where is the new Yankee Stadium? Where is the new Nationals ballpark? When will they reprint it with the updates? I don’t know. He keeps paging through though, carefully organizing the pages that have slipped out, memorizing every picture and statistic.
Somehow, he has pilfered my father’s MLB.com login and password. And every morning, after spooning up his cereal and haphazardly pulling his uniform on, he runs over to the PC and checks last night’s scores. He watches replays. He pulls up teams. He checks old games and stats and player information. He calls me in to see a play. “Mom! Check out this walk off home run!”
In the backseat of my car, there are two copies of Sports Illustrated – worn, weary and coverless. But they have all of the 2010 MLB stats and player information. He reads them on his way home from school every single day.
We have a pitch-back positioned up against our backyard’s back woods and a home plate lying there in the grass. First base lies up against the fence of the empty house next door. (The fence is our “Green Monster”, the abandoned yard is our “Sandlot” – just replace the dog in the movie with snakes, rabbits and armadillos.) Second base is in front of my dining room window. Third base lies in front of the back porch. If he doesn’t have school, my six year old pulls open the slider and runs out to our backyard ball field before the sun has even peeked up over the trees. And then, one after the other, he throws tennis balls into the air and cracks them up over the house. Over and over and over. And after each hit, he talks and cheers and yells the play by play to himself as he rounds the bases. Over and over and over.
There is also a “Mommy base”, where my folding lounge chair is positioned in left field. My three year old always makes a stop there as he rounds the bases. You know, just for a quick snuggle and chatty recap about the game in play. My six year old does not stop however. There is no “Mommy base” in the MLB.
On weekend evenings, he begs. “Just one more inning, Mommy. Just one more. Please.” And so our nights are filled with MLB baseball, no matter the team. Repetitive pitches, fouls, outs, man scratching, commentators mentioning historic facts as filler, spitting, swinging, staring, nothing happens. He remains focused while my husband and I wander away to make dinner. And suddenly there is a double play, the inning is over. He jumps up and down and races around the house and gives my husband and I high fives while we simmer veggies on the stove. What just happened? He is happy to reenact it on the hard wood floor – dives, catches, slides, it’s the most exciting thing in the whole wide world.
Do you know where the oldest ballpark in the country is? Do you know the entire line-up for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox? Do you know the oldest team in the country? Do you know who won the first world series? I don’t. But my son does.
Do you know how much space a full length MLB game takes up on a DVR? He records games every day. And we quietly erase them a few days after that.
Guess where he’s celebrating his 7th birthday? Predictably, in the parking lot of the Trop before a Rays game. Baseball cupcakes, friends with their gloves, sneaking down to the edge of the field to watch warm ups, climbing up to nosebleed seats to watch the game, Lets Go Rays!
We just finished our Little League season where he played on a local coach pitch team. Proudly. He would practice before his games and perfect his slides on the dining room floor. He remained stoically “baseball ready” in the outfield. He dove and rolled for any catch that he could, certainly re-enacting some highlight or another. When ready to hit, he would twirl his bat before the pitch – also something he had obviously seen somewhere before. In the dugout he clung to the fence, staring, watching, jumping in place nervously. He counted the plays, disagreed with calls (later, while being tucked into bed), slid into bases, dove, swung, ran, tagged and tried so so hard. He wasn’t the best player and he wasn’t the squeakiest wheel – but he adored every single moment.
I just signed him up from baseball summer camp. And once school is back in session, there will be Fall Ball too. Again.
It’s a whole new world for me. And I want to be entirely into it with him – but I tapped out of sports about as fast as it took a well aimed kickball to knock the glasses off my wee first grade face many decades ago. I didn’t know the difference between a hit and a run until this Little League season. And is there a difference between a “double” and a “double play”? I’m pretty sure there is.
But I’m trying. And adoring his passion and irrepressible glee for it. And screaming “Way to go baby!!!” from behind the chain link fence at the ball park. And searching for foul balls in our snake infested “Sandlot”. And pitching (no matter how often I’m labeled a “belly itcher” rather than an actual pitcher). And counting up his gear and shaking dirt out of his cleats and washing his uniform and slowing the cart down through the baseball aisle every single time. And sitting through inning after inning, with him snuggled at my side, hanging on his translated play by play.
I’m really trying. And loving it. And always always baseball ready for my wonderful boy.
I saw some robins in my yard. After my years in western Massachusetts, the sight of robins hopping around green grass, wearily recovering from snow melt, has always signaled the first sign of spring in my mind. So the robins have arrived here in Florida – and while there is no recent snow melt to dodge, they are here hopping and calling and puffing out their chests. I am thinking they are only making a quick stop over here before finally heading north to a well deserved western Massachusetts. You know, once this whole winter thing goes out like a lamb and all.
We also have some green buds on trees and a fine coating of pollen on the cars. Both obvious signs of spring also. Annoying and sneeze-worthy yes, but still hopeful.
But the true sign of spring’s arrival happened here this Monday. My son had his first Little League baseball game. They won 20-8. He made three runs and covered short stop position better than any pro ever could. I swear. And considering how much I know about pro baseball (ahem, cough), I should know.
Spring is coming folks. Enjoy these first few signs.