Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Update on Ring Day -- Or -- A demon has been exorcised?

We got the rings.

I had to leave the office at 10:15 and wait in the cold with my son at Gate 5 at "the Cell" -- I must have cut in front of 100 people behind him, but I had to get my ticket from him, didn't I?

When the gate finally opened, a loud cheer went up from the assembled throng, and we began surging forward. No one was trampled, and Oldest Son found a seam and started to pull away. I urged him to go on ahead alone; I'd get my ring if I could, but he was young and strong, and he should go move ahead if the crowd dynamic permitted. (I told him to start calling my cell phone if I hadn't caught up with him in an hour or two. Just in case I got trampled.)

Our seats were in the very last row of the upper deck, under the new canopy, in the shade, about two-thirds of the way down the left field line.

When the ballpark was first opened, the wind used to whip through the upper deck concourse at hurricane speeds, even if it that wasn't windy outside. There would be a wind-chill factor in July. The recent renovations have tamed the winds within, but they have to go somewhere, don't they?

Yesterday was a very windy day, and winds went around the stadium, accelerating along the way, and blowing right up our backs. I had was wearing Under Armour beneath a flannel shirt and a jacket. And I was still cold. And I kept waiting for my hat to blow off my head.

Young people are generally oblivious to the chill, but an hour before game time, Oldest Son said, "My feet are cold. This is a bad sign." (In the sunshine, people were wearing t-shirts and were comfortable. LSS told me the radio announcers were disputing the stated 47-degree temperature at game time; they thought it was more like 80°. They, too, were in the sun.)

So we're freezing. We're in seats that even Bob Uecker wouldn't confuse with "the front row." We're seemingly in danger of being swept by a gust of wind and hurled to our deaths from the still-steep upper deck at U.S. Cellular (though it does look much nicer now). But we got our rings. And for me it was a Löwenbräu moment.

The cultural reference may be too obscure for those who weren't paying attention to beer commercials 25 years ago. The jingle (and anyone happening upon this little essay may be grateful that I have not undertaken a study of how to make an audio post) went, "Here's to good friends/ Tonight is kind of special/ The beer we pour, must be something more, somehow.... Each commercial in the series was a little tear-jerker, about bonding, among friends, between family members.

Oldest Son had bought me a ticket to the ballgame. A circle closed somewhere.

And we had some time to talk. So I mentioned that the day had put me in mind of some of the ballpark giveaway days that I mentioned here in my last post -- the Bat Day, the Red Hat Day.

Oldest Son waited until I subsided and said, "That's not what I was thinking about."

"No? What?" said I.

"The baseball cards," he said.

How in the world does a kid remember that, 16 or 17 years later? He was four or five years old. How much does anyone remember from when they were four or five?

He remembered, and I've remembered more, too. When we were told that they were out of cards at the gate where we entered, we walked around to every other gate in the park. We went to an office. LSS remembered (when I told her this story) that she called the team to complain, and that she was told that cards would be mailed.

They never were.

This obviously left an impression. I thought that might be a subconscious motivation -- but I never dreamed it was still in active memory.

I'm so glad Oldest Son invited me yesterday. And I'm so glad we got the rings. Maybe we even healed the hurt feelings of a little kid, 16 or 17 years later.

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