Five years old. His dad took him to his first game, just like his dad did when he was five. Mid-July, day games were cheaper, and the noon sun was only slightly more less forgiving than their scorching backless bleacher seats.
At six dollars for a drink they could only afford one each. He was attempting to savor each ice cube by the fourth inning. Nine innings, four hours, his dad's team lost 2-0. How in the world is this America's past-time?
Eleven years old. Two strikeouts and a grounder back to the pitcher. That and a farmer's tan are all he had to show for two and a half hours of blistering sun and a musty dugout.
His dad was his coach, and the disappointment in his eyes stung more than the dropped fly ball. This wasn't the worst part; he didn't even like the game. But reliving every mistake with his dad on ride home only fueled his hatred.
Disappointing children - America's past-time.
Seventeen now; giving up baseball to run track was the easiest decision he ever made. Tonight he ran his personal best. He meandered into the living room, blue ribbon crumbled in his pocket.
"How'd you do?" His dad asks, like a broken record after every race, taking advantage of the commercial break between innings. Empty stadium seats and occupied recliners - America's past-time.
Twenty years old, college sophomore; lost his track scholarship to injury. "I told you all that running would break your body down." "You're just not built for it." "What's your plan now?"
"I don't know, dad. I don't know, I don't know." The game is back on. Thank God for America's past-time.
Twenty-two. Doctor says the cancer may have spread. Who gets cancer in their twenties? They all say the same Things: "How are you feeling?" "You do don't even look sick." "I'm praying for you."
But not him. "Our ace has a no hitter in the seventh. Wanna watch." "Yeah I think I do." His new escape - America's past-time.
Twenty-nine. Four years remission. His pocket vibrates. "Hey is it okay if I bring a cake over this weekend?" "Actually wanted to see if you' wanted go to the game. It is your grandson's fifth birthday."
"Really? I didn't even think you liked baseball." "Are you kidding? It's our tradition, America's past-time."