Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Finally, baseball season has arrived.

As a boy growing up in Minnesota, I was 8 years old when the Twins moved to town. And I was thrilled! One of my fondest memory as a child was my first time at a major league game, and how the grass was greener, the hot dogs were better, and the Frosty Malts were, well, frostier. And certainly, the players were a whole lot better than I was used to seeing. I was at the old Met Stadium on August 26, 1962, when Jack Kralick pitched an almost perfect game, giving up only a walk in the ninth inning. I can still see Vic Power catching the last out on a foul popup right in front of the dugout, which was near where I was sitting.

Growing up in a neighborhood with lots of kids my age, baseball was our passion. We had access to the local school field most summer days, and if not, we played in the streets, or vacant lots. I did manage to put a ball through our neighbor’s picture window, which as it turned out meant I had to cut his grass all summer. Never really liked that guy.

One thing I truly love about baseball is the pace, without a time clock. Granted, some games can go a bit long, but a leisurely pace on a nice day being outside? Love it. For those not aware, the major leagues have adopted a time clock this season for both pitchers and batters to speed up the games, but with only a few games into the season, people will have their own feelings about how this works.

My daughters always set up games for us to attend each summer, which is a Father’s Day treat. We usually hit a Twins game, but have also gone to the St. Paul Saints games, which are not as busy, or expensive. Never been to a Saints game? Do check it out, as the stadium is busy, but smaller, and cozy, with the same atmosphere as a Twins game.

I cannot forget the Brewers, as they have a wonderful team and a beautiful stadium. The venue formerly known as Miller Park is now American Family Field. While Miller Park was being built just next door to the old County Stadium, I was often traveling to Milwaukee at the time and watched it being built. I swear it looked like you could fit 10 of the old stadiums into the new one, as Miller Park just dwarfed the old park. Do check it out if you are a fan. Although I have never been to Wrigley Field in Chicago, I have always been a Cubs fan. I know that ballpark is old but small, and quaint. And I have always hated the White Sox ever since I can remember, so don’t go there.

Do not like professional sports? On many levels, neither do I. The salaries commanded by pro athletes today, in almost every sport, to me borders on the obscene. It makes it so expensive for a typical family to attend. Then last summer major league baseball ventured into the political arena, taking away the All-Star game in Atlanta because of disagreements over voting laws. No matter how you feel about the laws, should a sports organization be wading into today’s partisan politics? I do not think so.

There is hardly a better place to watch a baseball game in the summer than our very own Carson Park. Whether you prefer high school, once again UWEC, the Cavaliers, or the Express, Carson Park is a gem.

Of course, the library has all sorts of books and also DVDs on the history of baseball, and also Eau Claire baseball history. We even have a book and DVDA Summer Up North, about Hank Aaron playing here in 1952 for the Eau Claire Bears.

Don’t really like baseball, but want to be outside on a nice day with friends, or family. Do what my wife does. Bring a book!


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