I have been a fan of baseball for as long as I can remember. I’m not quite sure when the love affair started, but I give credit to my father for introducing me. We used to go to games together when I was little – he, my stepmom, my sister, and I. I always loved the games – making a trip out to Seattle (a long haul for a young girl!), entering the Kingdome, and finding our seats in the Family section in deep right field. We always had peanuts – usually from Rick the Peanut Man – and almost always had a hot dog. Back then the stadium didn’t have all the fancy booths like Ivars, the Asian wok, and chocolate covered strawberries. It was hot dogs, pretzels, and sometimes pizza. I liked it that way.
We’d gear up for the start of the game, waiting for our favorite players to take the field. We’d watch Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner run out together, step on second base, high five, and go their separate ways – one to center field and the other to right. We’d watch Joey Cora run out and superstitiously jump over the white baseline, always sure not to hit the chalk. If Randy Johnson was playing (an extra treat), we’d watch him throw his warm up pitches, in awe of his height and throwing speed.
During the game, we’d watch every pitch, every hit, and every strikeout. We’d give commentary on the players – Dan Wilson was my favorite – and cheer until our voices were scratchy. We played the quarter game, too. Each of us would put a quarter into a cup and at the end of each inning, we’d pick a cross section of the pitcher’s mound – the front, back, right, or left side. Then, when the pitcher threw his last pitch and dropped the ball on the mound as he exited the field, we would wait anxiously to see where the ball landed. If it was in our quadrant, we won the quarters for that inning. I loved that game.
We’d watch the Hat Trick and try to pick the correct location of the ball. We’d scream our color of choice during the hydroplane races. We’d bellow the words to Take Me Out to the Ball Game and dance the night away to Louie, Louie. We’d stand up and flail our arms during the wave. We had a great time, each and every game.
I love baseball.
And I miss those games.
Over the years, my attendance at Mariners games has declined. I spent a few years away at college, then some time in Thailand, and during the in between years, I just didn’t make it to Safeco. It’s true, the Mariners also haven’t had the best decade of baseball, but I like to consider myself more than just a fair weather fan. I think I just got busy and forgot how much I love the games.
Lucky for me, I got a great job at Nintendo.
Fun fact: Nintendo is the majority share owner of the Mariners, and thus has a lot of opportunities for employees to go to the games. They have sets of season tickets they sell for every weekend game. They hold lotteries for dugout seats and suite tickets. I have more than ample opportunity to attend … and I plan on taking advantage of that as often as possible.
I did just that a few weeks ago purchasing discount tickets to opening night. I went with my dad, stepmom, and friend Jillian. We had a great time. We ate peanuts – not from Rick the Peanut Man, but with a sticker holding the bag closed that honored the departed legend. We watched the new players, many of whom we don’t know, but who all seem to have their own traditions and styles about which I’m excited to learn. We attempted to locate the ball in the Hat Trick, which has become exponentially harder since I was little. We screamed our color of choice for the hydroplanes, which has become exponentially more high tech. We sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. We danced to Louie, Louie. We didn’t play the quarter game, but maybe next time.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this season. It’s about time this love affair with baseball continued … and I’m glad to see that some traditions never change.