Monday, June 6, 2011

Taking pregnant women to the ol' ballgame

I wish I had a great, big pregnant woman to take to Pirate games. Understand, I don’t want anything to do with causing her pregnancy or, gadzooks, for being responsible for the ensuing squaller.
Who needs that?
But the Pittsburgh Pirates are just coming off a great homestand that saw them take two of three from the Major League best Philadelphia Phillies. PNC Park was packed. It was a great baseball atmosphere.
I wish I could have been there. But I haven’t been to a baseball game all year. I still resent the cheapskate owners, the high prices, and the year’s been a tumult of family obligations that have vacuumed up all my time and income.
The weekend had me missing the summers when I was at a ballgame at least once a week.
Prior to all the eventual mayhem resulting from my own pregnant wife, I used to attend as many as 30 games a year with my buddies. And what fun we had.
We’d sit there in the stands guzzling beer, profanely jeering the opposition and spouting just enough real baseball insight to confuse the crowd into thinking we were idiot scouts.
In fact, we might as well have been. My peak baseball attending years coincided with the 18-year span involving some of the worst baseball in Pirate history.
Real Pirate idiot scouts were probably just a few sections over acting exactly like we were and confusing fans into thinking they were just drunken fans.
So we had a lot of giddy guy fun.
But I also loved for different reasons going with my wife, none more so than when she was great with child.
To many people, professional baseball is boring. I guess to them life is, too.
I find it impossible to mix more than 20,000 people, an interesting athletic spectacle and $7 domestic beers and not be entertained. It’s all theatre.
That’s why Val was such a great, big asset when she had a really great, big, uh, profile.
It always happened on Sundays when the team was giving away crappy souvenirs to kids 10 and under.
There were cheap jerseys, batting helmets, team clocks -- stuff nobody wants.
Unless it’s free.
I remember on this bright Sunday they were giving away tiny Giant Eagle-sponsored Kevin Young souvenir bats. They were miniature foot-long versions of the game-used bats Young swung, but for practical purposes they might as well have been the real thing.
Young couldn’t hit a curve ball with a Giant Eagle souvenir bass fiddle.
Still, I felt a craving. I’d see the ticket takers distributing the cheesy novelties to the line of dopey kids and think, “How can I get my hands on one?”
That’s when it struck me: I already had a dopey kid of my own. It was just that neither my wife and I had met her yet.
The ticket taker scanned our tickets and gave a friendly, “Enjoy the game!”
I asked him if I could have a bat.
“Sorry, pal, those are for only kids 10 and under.”
That’s when I pointed at the audacious belly of my 8-month pregnant wife.
“C’mon! The kid’s gotta be with you!”
He’d fallen right into my trap.
“Are you telling me life doesn’t begin at conception?” I shouted. “This isn’t some senseless mass of tissue. It is a child! In fact, it’s possible we will enter this game as a couple, but leave before the seventh inning stretch as a family. She’s due any minute!
“Now, I’ll be happy to stand here and argue Roe v. Wade with you all day, but I’m not leaving until you give me a lousy bat!”
I felt sort of bad for the guy because he never thought when he’d taken what is generally a happy minimum wage job that he’d be asked to litigate third trimester legalities.
But, hey, I wanted that bat.
He gave it to me -- and I was careful to ensure he gave it to me and not my humiliated wife who later said she would have used it to beat me senseless to the cheers of the exasperated crowd.
I still have that bat. The kid, too.
Sometimes I still pick it up, squeeze it, and think of all the carefree times I had down at the ol’ ball game.
It brings back a lot of really great memories. It still means a lot to me.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether I’m referring here to the kid or the bat.

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