A self-proclaimed cedar-hacker from Arkansas with a southern drawl and a dry wit so sharp it will cut you in half before you even feel the pain.
A grandmother, teacher, choir member and darn good cook.
A home-grown-smoking, home-brew-swilling, aging hippie bespectacled with rose-colored prescription lenses.
A giggling, screeching teenage girl with a mouth full of metal and rubber bands, hair in pigtails and ever-present flip flops.
A singer in a rock band in his favorite vintage AC/DC tee shirt with the sleeves cut out.
A slick, big-city banker sporting designer sunglasses and what hasn’t been discarded of a three-piece suit.
A housewife in a sundress, floppy hat and dark glasses, sporting Barbie-pink nail polish on her recently pedicured toes.
An ex Army medic turned firefighter with a penchant for attracting psycho-babes and an affinity for spicy foods.
A father, dressed in khaki shorts and his favorite tee shirt explaining the intricacies of the double steal to a kid with an oversized baseball cap slurping ice cream out of a miniature replica helmet.
What do all of these people have in common? Why, they’re all baseball fans, of course. Nothing I have seen in the course of everyday life brings together a more diverse cast of characters than a baseball game on a lazy summer evening.
I attended my first professional baseball game at the old Arlington Stadium with my uncle to see the Texas Rangers take on the hated New York Yankees in a double header, long before the days of the day/night variety. Being a baseball fan already, I was hooked on experiencing the game in person.
Not everyone is there for the same reason. There are the die-hards, the casuals, the socializers, the partiers and those that just want to get out and enjoy the weather. But, by and large, everyone is there to have a good time. There are always those contrarians, those who look to start or get into trouble, but they are the minority.
Everybody is your friend at a baseball game. Sitting out in the blistering Texas sun and need some sunscreen? The girl across the aisle will be happy to share some of hers. Going back to your seat after a brief rain delay and don ‘ t want to sit in a puddle? The guy two rows up is loaning his towel out to whoever needs it.
We could all take some life lessons from the camaraderie shown by a large group of strangers held together by nothing more than a rooting interest in the laundry worn by this year’s roving band of gloved, bat wielding mercenaries.
The pace of baseball lends itself to this kind of relaxed revelry. It is not adrenaline induced pummeling of an opponent. It is not non-stop, up and down a court, sometimes lumbering, sometimes in bursts. Baseball is leisurely paced, perfect for getting to know one’s neighbors. Perfect for summer.
After competing in the rat race at a breakneck pace, taxiing kids from one activity to another and fighting ever-increasing traffic; baseball provides a welcome three to three and half hour respite from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I’ll take that any day of the week.