Next weekend I am going with my sister-in-law and her family to a local minor league Baseball game. They all seemed surprised that I liked the sport and I told them that it is one of those things that holds a wealth of wonderful of memories for me. I had a close friend who's dad was the 3rd base coach for the Twins many years back so I had a whole summer of wonder in the 80s, then there was the Cubs game just last year with Bernie and Jen that will I will remember forever with a smile. But all that is just icing on the cake of what was my favorite ball park experience. I am cheating a little by sharing something I had already written back in 2009, but I realized then what a powerful thing memories are after I heard about one of the best pitchers in Baseball passing away and I felt compelled to write down my memories of a very special day.
April 14, 2009
This is how the old Met looked on the day I wrote about.
Its funny how memories can come back so fast, its like being hit with a freight train. I was watching the news last night and they ran a story that Mark Fidrych died in a freak accident at his home. I was completely stunned, everything I remembered about that warm day came back all at once. It was July 20th 1976 and I was the most special 12 year old girl on the planet because dad was taking me to see “a GREAT pitcher they called "The Bird"” I remember being a little confused because he didn’t pitch for the Twins but that was okay, if dad liked him that’s all that mattered. We parked pretty far back in the parking lot and I remember the smell of the tailgaters brats cooking and how it made my stomach growl. Inside the Met Stadium there was such a contrast in temperature that it actually gave me a shiver, but there was the promise of a hot dog. We were there early, along with everyone else it seemed, and waited our turn in the long line to get a pregame snack. Two hot dogs, a large beer for dad and a root beer for me, it seemed expensive at $2.25, almost a whole weeks allowance for me! I remember dad looking like the proverbial kid in a candy store, it seemed to take about 10 years off his age. We made our way back outside to our seats, ate our ball park meal in the shade of the bleachers and waited for the program vendor. Dad almost never bought a program, he knew the players by name and knew a lot of the stats off the top of his head, if he bought a program it was a special game indeed. We waited some more. Finally… the players were called to the field and when they called Mark Fidrych’s name the stadium erupted in cheers and stomping, I had never seen such a thing for a player on the opposing team, was everyone insane or could this guy really pitch that well? The national anthem was played and then there was an announcement….The Minnesota Twins did something they had never done before and I don’t think have done since….they released 13 pigeons to try to break ‘The Birds’ winning streak. Finally the game began, I remember watching Mark’s antics on the mound and thinking there really WERE Angels in the Outfield, that HAD to be who he was talking to, right? But whether he was talking to Angels, the ball or himself it didn’t matter, the Twins didn’t stand a chance and lost the game to Detroit 8 to 3. Now the Met Stadium is gone to make way for the Mall of America, Dad passed away quite a few years ago and one of the best pitchers in Baseball is gone. Quite the flood of memories in a short 30 second news story. Who says you loose your memory with age?