There’s nothing better for young boys than having a day out at the ball park. That’s where memories are made. Fathers and sons get to cheer for the same team, sing the same songs, and eat the same food – perhaps the only time in their life they’ll really be on the same page!
I became a Dodgers fan because: a) I lived in L.A. for eight years, and b) growing up I was a Tigers fan, so the National League Dodgers were no threat whatsoever. When I lived in L.A., I tried to attend 10-15 games a year, and when I moved to Central California I had to cut that back to one or two games a summer.
In the summer of 1995 I took the four-hour road trip from Fresno to L.A. to watch the Dodgers play the Cubs. We timed the drive to get to the park an hour before the first pitch, and planned to drive home at the end of the game.
With me in our group was my wife, my five-year-old son, his five-year-old best friend and my four-month-old baby boy. I bought five seats so we’d have plenty of room for the baby and we could sort of spread out.
We got to our seats early, and of course the two five-year-olds wanted all kinds of cotton candy, hot dogs, Skittles, and anything else that would make them more wired and hyper than they would normally be.
Now, you should know that Los Angeles is full of people like me who grew up elsewhere, so you see a lot of visitor’s apparel in the bleachers. In the seats in front of us was a real Southern California Classic. They were a husband and wife - she was decked out in a complete Cubs uniform, and had Walkman headphones on. Yes, she looked like a female Steve Bartman. Her husband, on the other hand, couldn’t have been less interested in anything, as he slouched there reading a novel.
As the game started, I noticed they were turning around and looking at me a lot, and I had no idea why. Turns out they were irked that the two five-year-old boys who were hyped up and full of energy and were “kicking” their seats from the back as they were generally horsing around.
When I figured out what the dirty looks were for, I told the boys to knock it off and control their legs. But you know… trying to get a couple of kindergarteners to control their legs in those seats that are too big for them anyway is like trying to get Mark McGuire to admit performance enhancing drugs actually enhanced his performance.
It’s just not going to happen.
To her credit, the woman in front of us was pretty cool. She cast all her nasty glances to her husband. And, of course, he then started getting confrontational with me.
He would turn around and tell me to make the kids stop, and then go back to reading his book. He would take his arm and kind of swipe at the kid’s legs, and then go back to reading his book. He would make a big grunting noise and lean way forward, and then go back to reading his book.
Mind you, all this time I’m trying to take care of the baby, keep the Kindergartners under control, and watch a bit of the game myself. My wife? She was out of it completely!
When the guy in front of me couldn’t take it anymore, he stood up, turned around and got in my face and yelled, “This is no place to take children!”
I was shocked at how illogical that sounded. I said, “I think it’s the perfect place to take children. Baseball is all about children. This is where they’re supposed to be.”
The guy scolded me and said, “This is an activity for adults only. I’m going to report you to the ushers.”
I was so shocked, I said, “You’re going to call the ushers and tell them I’m not supposed to be sitting here with children? Oh, I’ve got to hear this. In fact, let me call them for you. This is going to be great.”
At this point I think even the bookworm realized how stupid that sounded – and what made the whole thing especially ridiculous was the fact that the stadium was less than half full! He and his wife removed themselves a few rows away and lived happily ever after.
I, on the other hand, still had the misery of taking care of the baby, two hyper five-year-old boys, and managing the grumpiness of my wife. So for me… no difference really.
But I think we all learned a beautiful lesson that day: I think Rodney King said it best, “Can’t we all just get along – and sit as far away from others as possible?”