On to the game. Jack went over to the wall where the players were stretching out. He’d brought the bat he’d gotten from a minor league game in Arkansas and he was collecting player autographs. I was sitting a few rows back. There was a whole line of kids lined up for autographs. At least…most of them were kids. Look at the photo and tell me which autograph seeker stands out.
Exactly. This dude was an expert autograph hound. In fact, he passed up on most players. He was clearly seeking one guy and the field attendant helped get the player over to sign in the binder.
I found it a little odd. And as we went back to our seats it led me to take a good look at the crowd. It was a good hour before the game started, it was a Monday night, and the forecast called for rain. This meant a thin crowd which fell into 2 distinct groups.
Group 1: Mutants.
These were not the beautiful people. The hard-core AA minor league baseball regulars were in the house, and they were a sight. There was a large grimace of a woman wearing what appeared to be a pink, Trenton Thunder bathrobe and a white Thunder hat covered in signatures. There were 3 guys in a row who appeared to be eating ribs through their noses. There was an enormously obese family including two kids wearing tuxedo T-shirts. The creepy autograph collector fit into Group 1.
These people all knew each other. They all knew the ushers. They were Trenton Thunder regulars and quite frankly…they were awesome. In fact, I believe I was looking at my future. My retirement plans have always involved regularly eating steak and eggs for breakfast AND being a season ticket holder for a minor league team. Folks…behold my future. These are my people.
Group 2: Scouts.
We were seated directly behind home plate and we were literally surrounded by baseball scouts. We chatted with one of the guys who worked for the Marlins, who was super nice. But there were at least 25 of them. They all had clipboards and speed guns.
This was a distinctly different crowd than the mutants. They wore khakis and were generally trim. Most scouts are former baseball players, and you could tell just by the way they carried themselves that they were former athletes.
They were an odd crowd to sit among. Some chattered with each other about rules. Others just glared at the game, looking stern. However, none of them cheered for strikeouts. They didn’t countdown with the crowd at the end of the watermelon-eating contest. Not one of them sang along to “Take me out to the ballgame.” It made the viewing experience somewhat self-conscious for me.
Check these guys out:
As for the seats…if anyone ever offers you scout seats, you should say YES. We were literally 3 rows behind home plate, which gave you an amazing perspective on the game. I could genuinely tell what pitch was thrown – fastball, breaking ball, curve. I could hear the loud thwap of the ball hitting the catcher’s glove. At least once an inning a ball would get tipped back right at us, and I’d scream like a girl and dive for cover as the ball hissed into the black protective netting. The seats were so good I eventually took off my glasses.
Jack and I watched the game, keeping score and talking about the pitches. Every time a ball was hit into the stands, Jack would bolt off in that direction, hoping to get a ball.
Meanwhile, Alex was still madly taking photos. He kept switching between the telephoto lens and the regular lens, each time scaring the crap out of me that he’d hurt my boss’s camera.
It rained for a bit in the 5th inning, and then a rainbow came out across the field. Then as it got dark we could see lightning in the sky as a backdrop to the game.
It was a a quirky game. The final score was 11-7, but no home runs. Almost all the runs were on singles. And at the top of the 7th with 1 out, I looked up at the sky behind the lights and it hit me just how much I love being at a baseball game. Especially with my boys. I reached out and grabbed a boy’s head in each hand. They both had their heads shaved 2 weeks ago, and I rubbed my face on their prickly heads.
Alex’s Photo Gallery
At his photography lesson, Alex asked what was the most important thing to do. He was told: “Take TONS of photos.”
Alex took 618 photos at the game. Here are some of the selects:
“I like this because he’s in the middle of the sun.”
“This shot has 2 butts in it.”
“I want one of you and Jack.”
“You can tell how fast he pitches.”
“I think it’s so funny how it says Pork Roll next to the guy.”
“Can you see the umpire and the other guy? I swished the camera back and forth for this. I really like the colors so much.”