Day at Tiger Stadium
have a tradition in my family. I take my mom to a ballgame on or
around Father's Day. She has been a both mother and father to me
and my love of the Tigers comes from her.
In 1999, parents
were allowed to run the bases with their kids after the game. Mom
didn't want to wait in line so she stayed in her seat while I took
my two-year-old son Jacques. We exited at the main gate and turned
Jacques fell asleep
in my arms before we made the turn from Michigan onto Cochrane.
A father and his two sons were directly behind us. The boys kept
complaining about how tired they were, and what a waste of time
this all was. Their father patiently reminded them that this was
his Father's Day gift. We shared a knowing glance. I caught bits
of conversations from others around us trivia, folklore, statistics.
As we passed the
bleacher entrance, our excitement grew. The two boys finally stopped
complaining. Jacques woke up as we left the sunlit street, and re-entered
the dark building with its beer and popcorn smells. The feeling
was very different than before a game when one is usually in a hurry
to get seated. We had a chance to examine the nooks and crannies,
the many layers of peeling paint, and the odd shaped windows.
One more turn
and we stepped out onto the warning track. The first thing I did
was look straight up at the overhang. The porch to me is as important
a baseball icon as Wrigley's ivy or Fenway's Green Monster. Next
I looked over at Kaline's Corner and gauged the distance of a throw
to home plate. I looked up in the stands where mom was all by herself
in the shade of section 230. Suddenly I felt first base under my
foot. I put Jacques down, and he immediately bent down to feel the
dirt. The two boys ran past him. He looked up with a smile
and took off for a second, going straight toward the outfield, and
as I caught him I filled my pockets with dirt. We both ran
to third and then home. The line filed past the Tigers' dugout to
exit the field near the bullpen. Despite the coaxing of the ushers,
we lingered awhile.
Jacques and I
raced back through the stands. Mom told me she had tears in her
eyes watching us run the bases.
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