Every few months, I take my godson, nicknamed Bug, on a trip to spend time together and have fun. Let’s be honest: He’s 6. He loves everything from swimming to going to school! So what is perhaps a burden to some is fun for him.
Recently I decided to do something we both thought would be fun. We traveled to Coca-Cola Park in Allentown to see the Lehigh Valley IronPigs take on the Syracuse Chiefs. He had never been to Coca-Cola Park and had just finished playing his first season of baseball.
After entering the concourse, we headed to our seats behind the home dugout. As we walked down the steps, my godson couldn’t contain his excitement. “Are we in this row Uncle Sean? This one?” I think he would have been happy sitting anywhere.
We could see the players up close, knowing one day they might play for the Philadelphia Phillies. Before the game, the players signed autographs for kids hoping to shake the hand of a future Cooperstown inductee.
As the game started, I taught Bug the basics of the batting count. By the end of the game, this proud godfather (in my best Marlon Brando voice) could hear him saying “2-1” as in two balls, one strike.
He was learning about baseball, but he was also learning what a “50/50” drawing was. He watched as the scoreboard ticker rose to over $3,000 by the 5th inning. “That’s a lot of money! I could probably buy a house with that!” If wishing only made it so, my friend.
The best part was the food. Not just any food, but the kind of food mommies and wives don’t let us eat every day. We hit the pizza stand, where I got a simple slice of pepperoni and Bug got a specialty slice that combined his favorite foods: pizza and bacon!
After chowing down, we went looking for some more nourishment, which would include a burger, fries and corn on the cob. To be completely fair, I ate most of the food.
Then we hit the merchandise store, where I bought an official IronPigs pennant for my godson’s room. We returned to our seats and turned our attention to the in-between inning games, where we tried our best to catch a T-shirt shot out of a cannon.
Next up was the mascot race among the Honorable Chris P. Bacon, Diggity and perennial loser Hambone. It was a tight race, but it was Diggity who sprinted through the finish line as if he won the Boston marathon or were a victorious horse at Churchill Downs.
As we sat in the beautiful weather and laughed at a competitive race among breakfast meats, I thought about how fortunate we are to have such a wonderful venue in Pennsylvania. I thought about how simple things like baseball can not only entertain kids, but also me – a decently functional adult. I was reminded of the great speech by James Earl Jones in the movie “Field of Dreams:”
The one constant through all the years has been baseball. … It reminds of us of all that once was good and that could be again.
As Bug will learn, things in life aren’t always easy. But in that moment, with one of my best buddies, we had the peacefulness of watching America’s game.
As we both started to yawn, I knew it was time to head home. As we left the stadium, a golf cart appeared and Bug asked for a ride. I knew I had no choice. We hopped on and officially removed ourselves from a place in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. But the smile on Bug’s face told me it was worth it … just this once.