Taking my son to the ballpark
Two weekends ago, I decided to take my son to see the Atlanta Braves take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The next day was my son’s 7th birthday, so I thought I’d surprise him with a night out at the park.
This wasn’t his first baseball game. I had actually taken him to a game when he was a baby, which is cute, but not a lot of fun. I think my wife and I took him to a game when the Red Sox (my favorite team) were in town. He was a baby and he didn’t care about the game. Neither did my wife. We got some pictures and had a fine time. We went again to see the Red Sox and Braves play a few years later. Now he was mobile and it was even less fun. He still didn’t care about the game and now he wanted to move. My wife, bless her heart, walked with him to the mist tunnel by the giant Coke bottles and just let him run around the concourse.
We decided to wait a bit before we took him to another game.
I brought him to one game when he was five, right around the time he was starting kindergarten. Have you ever been to a game in the middle of an August afternoon? I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s hot. I can handle hot temperatures for awhile but being constantly reminded of how hot it is by a five year old increases the temperature by five degrees every minute. It was pretty much Hell by the third inning.
We tried again the following spring. This time I decided to go with a co-worker and his kids. They were experienced at going to games at The Ted. They brought snacks, challenged each other to get on the incredibly large jumbotron, wore baseball caps and were thrilled to go. The excitement was contagious and my son was eager to watch the game with his friends.
Unfortunately, major rain storms put a damper on much of the baseball action. After watching an amazing thunderstorm sweep past and through the Atlanta skyline, we went to our very wet seats. When the second rain delay rolled in, we rolled out.
My son and I tried again later that summer and hit another night of storms and rain.
So, this time, when his seventh birthday rolled around and the weather looked certain to cooperate, we hopped in the car and drove up to the stadium. I figured we could buy our tickets right before game time and have no trouble getting in. If you are unaware, Braves games practically never sell out. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea I did that night.
"It’s a nice night, Braves are playing well, let’s go to the park and see what we can get for tickets."
The game was just starting and we were hundreds of people away from the ticket windows.
Score one for me though. I have an iPhone and I bought us two outfield tickets while standing in line. We moved from our spot in line (somewhere near Decatur, I think) and walked right up to will call where our tickets were waiting. Our seats were in centerfield and we had a good view of Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward patrolling the outfield. My son was excited to be a lot closer to the action this time around and yet he could practically not tear his eyes away from the enormous television screen behind us. He read every word that was plastered there - that’s what kids do when they learn to read, they read everything. I tried to point to the hitters at the plate, but his eyes went to the screen.
That is, until the first Tomahawk Chop. He loved standing up and moving his arm up and down like a tomahawk. He didn’t master the cheer, but he tried his best. He also shouted for the Braves to sink the Pirates. I gave him an A for his word play.
The Braves didn’t play great that night and lost, but Colin didn’t care much about the score. The highlight of the evening for him was the wave. I am not a big fan of the wave, but I have to admit it was one of the better ones I’ve seen in recent years. The crowd was into it and it made several laps around the stadium before dying out.
We took a few breaks to get some snacks and in between innings Colin danced trying to get on the giant screen. He did not make it this time though. Overall, it was our best night at the ballpark together and I hope that the seeds for more father and son trips to the baseball game have been successfully planted.
I went to a lot of sporting events with my Dad growing up and I’m sure I wasn’t a lot of fun at the beginning either - whether it was because I was cold, hungry or just impatient. Eventually though, they became places where we forged memories and had some great conversations. We still do. I don’t care if the Braves lose every time Colin and I go to a game - I hope they don’t - as long as we have a good time and he always wants to go again someday.
This fall, maybe we’ll even try taking in a Georgia football game.