My father loved baseball his whole life. He was loyal not to any particular team, but to the sport itself. “The world may be going to hell in a hand-basket,” he used to say, “but there will always be baseball.” I must have inherited my love of the game from him.
When I was little, he would take me to the stadium to watch the local triple-A team play. Twice a year we’d trek out to the city to watch a major league game, and once, when I was fifteen, a neighbor gave us tickets to game four of the World Series. (We lost.) To this day, the sound of the old anthem makes me feel like a kid again.
I moved to the city after my dad passed away. This year, for my fortieth birthday, I treated myself to season tickets. I even cut my shifts at the diner so I won’t have to miss a single game. Lucky for me, my boss likes me, and things have been slow at work anyway, what with the shortages. Not many can afford to eat out anymore.
Whenever I can, I get to the stadium early. I love to watch the players warm up in their bright uniforms and wool caps, their breath fogging the air behind the barbed wire. I brush the snow from my seat, settle back, and wrap myself in the same blanket my dad used to bring. It was warmer with the two of us snuggled deep inside, but I make do. I tell myself it still smells like him.
I’d contemplated a box seat, but who wants to be stuck behind plexiglass? You’re out of the cold, to be sure, but insulated – a step removed from the crack of the bat. Who would trade the seventh inning stretch, children’s mittened hands reaching for the sky, for the stale air and staler conversation of the VIP shelters?
Baseball used to be a summer game, when my dad was a kid. I can’t even imagine. When the burning rains started, most sports moved indoors, or withered like the fields of corn. What must it have been like, to sit in the stands under a clear blue sky, sipping beer and iced tea instead of synthetic cocoa? To feel the sun on bare shoulders?
This post was originally made in response to the Red Writing Hood prompt at Write On Edge on February 11, 2012:
Pick four numbers, each between 1 and 10. Write them down so you remember. The first number will be for your character, the second your setting, the third the time and the fourth will be the situation. Then take the four elements and combine them into a short story. All four you picked MUST be your main elements, but you can add in other characters, settings, times and situations. Word limit is 500.
This is not at all what I set out to write. Funny how that happens.