Baseball has been the one constant thats run through mine and my husband’s relationship. We’ve lived in three different cities, changed jobs a cumulative four times, bought a house, gotten married, obtained a dachshund, and had two children in such a short period of time that baseball has been the one thing that’s pretty much remained the same. That and my youthful beauty.
The very foundation of our relationship began to blossom within the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field as many of our first dates were spent knocking back Old Style and watching the Cubs play. At the time, I didn’t understand the magnitude of my husband’s baseball fanaticism, which is probably a good thing. He was a lifelong Yankees fan, played baseball through high school, now enjoyed participating in a competitive fantasy baseball league with his college buddies, and wrote for a fantasy baseball blog. I grew up going to Cincinnati Reds baseball games with my dad. Making our way down from the $6 nosebleed seats to get closer to the field while listening to the announcer scream out BAAARRRRRY LAAAAARRRKIIINNNN as we cheered along. I played softball through high school. My mom took us to Columbus Clippers on dime-a-dog night, which I think coincided with $1 beer nights and I can totally respect that now. In college I wrote for the sports page and continued to follow the Reds. Since moving to Chicago after graduation, I had come to fall in love with the lovable losers of the Northside and considered myself a “fan”. While nowhere near Joe’s level of love, I am a baseball fan and always have been.
I love going to a baseball game. The weather is usually good and you can simultaneously work on your tan while taking in a game and knocking a few back. A steamed hot dog is the perfect and complete meal and the camaraderie of singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch has always warmed my heart.
Each time Joe and I are at a baseball game I take a photo because I take photos of anything and everything and must document it all. But through the years I’ve been particularly insistent that we get a picture of us at Yankee Stadium together because it seems that no matter what we do or where we are in life, it is the one thing that has been a part of every summer we’ve spent together.
It’s been crazy and wild to see how things have changed through the years. And I’m not talking about how we’ve both aged and these kids are stealing away our youth and replacing it with wrinkles and bags under our eyes. Each year a trip to the ballpark has marked something new for us: an engagement, first year as newlyweds, a pregnancy, a baby, another baby, and then toddlers. Baseball isn’t a unique thing but it’s sort of our thing, which is why it’s been exhausting but worthwhile to start the tradition of sharing it with our kids. Except for the year I was majorly pregnant during the summer and refused to spend longer than necessary in the sun laid out like a beached whale while AJR, not quite 2 yet, ran around jacked up on cotton candy.
This past weekend we took the kids to a Yankees game to fulfill our annual tradition. The original plan was to only take our 3-year old, who is completely obsessed with baseball due to Joe’s brainwashing, and leave the never-sits-still unless Mother Goose Club is blaring obnoxiously 5 inches from her face 19-month old at home. Unable to secure a babysitter, Joe said we could all go. That it would be “fun”. Fun?? We can barely make it through an in-store Dunkin’ Donuts run without someone scampering off or screeching that I got them the wrong donut and he thought sitting through a baseball game was a fun family activity? Does he not know that I drive 10 minutes out of the way to go to through the drive-thru Dunkin’ now?
I set my expectations lower than low with this game as we were mixing a volatile cocktail of toddler exhaustion and sugar inflation. Game times usually fall right at nap time or bed time. Add in as much candy/cookies/food as they want to keep them happy and you are rolling the dice in a high stakes game called “how many innings before they lose their shit”. I put the over/under at two innings.
Then something magical began to unfold. Our outing was not the disaster I thought it would be. Was it the relaxing ballgame experience of our pre-kid past? Hell no. But my husband and I actually split a beer! We each chugged our half of a lukewarm Coors Light and never had the Rockies tasted so good. Neither kid cried. Not once. I mean, that could be because their mouthes were plugged up with free Ring Pops the entire time (those things are the everlasting Gobstoppers of the lollipop family), but hey, I’ll take it. Even wrangling both kids in the bathroom – Olivia needed a diaper change and AJR wanted to go to the bathroom and only I could take him – felt relatively easy. Until AJR decided Yankee Stadium was a great place for a #2 and I couldn’t get the toilet to flush and had to tell the bathroom attendant about the floater he left in there. I’m only about 50% sure she believed me when I said it wasn’t me.
AJR was in awe. He checks the MLB scores every morning with dad and this was a dream come true for him. It was pretty adorable to see even if it means that he’s slipping further and further from my grasp. Good thing I already called “dibs” on taking him to see Cars 3 once it hits theaters. That will give me some much needed clout since this whole baseball thing has taken off.
Olivia, our sweet little wildcard, was the biggest surprise of the day. We snuck in an early nap with her and she was a champion all day. Champion is a relative term. She had a Ring Pop in one hand and her regular pacifier in the other and alternated between the two, resulting in her face being one red, sticky smear. She got a kick out of watching the NYC subway roll by and waving to the people on the Fan Cam. I also need to give a shoutout to the most patient stranger ever as I’m pretty sure she babysat Olivia for a good half-inning while she played with her jewelry and pointed at her nail polish.
By the end of the 6th inning the kids were still going but there were clear signs of delirium. AJR was shuffling from foot to foot with glassy eyes while Olivia began making her body limp and oozing off of my lap only to climb back up and start all over again. Joe and I gave each other a knowing nod and hightailed it out of there, exhilarated by the fact that we left when WE wanted to, not because we needed to drag a screaming kid out of there. Which was exactly what happened last year when a no-nap AJR got freaked out when the entire stadium cheered after a Yankees home run. Did I mention it was also 95 degrees and I had an 8-month old strapped to me? It was a miracle that the combination of both our sweat didn’t cause her to slip out of the baby carrier. So yeah, we had accrued some good karma from train-wrecks past.
The kids fell asleep on the way home and we were able to reflect that while we were exhausted, it was a pretty darn good outing. We also nabbed our traditional family photo. A photo that shows how much our kids are growing and how lucky we are to have such healthy and occasionally well-behaved kids. For the first time since we started taking kids to the ballpark, I didn’t walk away swearing to never do it again. In fact, I would venture to say that I’m cautiously optimistic about doing it again and building on this nice little tradition we’ve started.