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My First Field Trip to the Ballpark

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Baseball has always been very near and dear to my heart. I’ve always loved everything from playing the sport, watching it on TV, and collecting cards of my favorite player, David Justice. Last week, however, was a first for me. I took my cousin, who is like a little sister to me, on a field trip with a bunch of her friends to see a Jacksonville Suns baseball game.

I was nervous at first and I didn’t know what to expect. Upon arriving at the school, Dasia (my cousin) ran up to me, hugged me, and escorted me to her class room. Her desk was right beside the teacher’s because, naturally, she’s a great student. (Excuse me as I brush my shoulders off and drop a “that’s my girl” slogan on you.) Everyone got their instructions from the teacher as to how the day was going to pan out and we all made our way outside in a single file line, of course, to the row of school busses awaiting dozens of children.

Stepping onto the bus, I caught a whiff of “the smell,” one you can only understand if you get onto a school bus and get your first whiff in years of the “brown leather, sweat, and grease” that still exists even today. Once we arrived at the ball park everyone walked single file line about a one-quarter of a mile into the ball park, this feat alone simply amazed me that the kids were so well behaved and no one got lost. Must be the single file line system.

Walking into the ball park we were all handed our customary hot dog and soda and we continued on to make our way to the seats. It apparently was “school day” for the ball park as there were nothing but children everywhere and a few adults who apparently were unaware of the “school day at the ballpark” (poor guys!). Sitting down in our seats waiting for the game to start, all of a sudden, it was as if the employee’s cage had been released from their dungeon and they were out, fully stocked with cotton candy and snow cones. The kids swarmed the workers like seagulls at the beach quickly buying anything they were selling. I saw nothing but blue, red, or purple mouths for the rest of the day.

After the first pitch is when some of the day’s questions started. Questions like, “Why do they water the dirt on the field when no one is out there?” I respond back with, “It’s for when the players are running around on the field so they do not slip and fall.” “Well why do they put the white stuff down on the field?” to which I said, “So the umpire knows what is a foul ball and what is not.” “What’s a foul ball?” and the questions continued on and on, but I didn’t mind in the least. A little know-it-all boy who was sitting in front of us quickly added his two cents in whenever he could and looked at me confused as to how a girl knows so much about baseball. The boy then proceeded to tell me his love affair with the Yankees, big mistake, kid. He didn’t say too much after I reminded him of what the Sox have done to them this year already. He then turned back around and didn’t say much else for the rest of the game. Dasia gave me a very proud “that’s my cousin” look.

I tried to have the kids sit and actually watch a game, but when you’re about ten years old it is very hard for baseball, or anything, to captivate their interest for a long period of time. They do not know what to look for yet, such as the way the batter stands in the box, if the guy on first is going to attempt a steal, or the pitch count for the starting pitcher. This appreciation comes years later. Therefore, I decided to go to Plan B.

Gift store!

I expected everything to be terribly overpriced, but to my amazement, it wasn’t in the least. I bought Dasia a baseball to try and get signed along with a sharpie to make sure my girl was prepared, both for under $6. Having been to this park several times, I knew exactly where to take her for the best shot at getting an autograph, right next to the bull pen. This spot is also the best place to catch a foul ball. The bullpen where the Jax Suns play is extremely close to the fans (a couple of feet max) and we sat and stared at the guys waiting patiently for an autographs and foul balls that would never come. Unfortunately, the Suns were getting destroyed in this game and I feel the players were too scared of getting in trouble by coach to sign any autographs. However, Dasia had a baseball nonetheless and top secret knowledge next time she goes to watch the game.

We made our way back to the seats with the rest of her class just in time for the seventh inning stretch. Dasia didn’t at first understand why we had to stand up to sing. “You stand up so you can get excited for the rest of the game!” as we proceeded to sing, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to which she knew EVERY word. After another proud moment, I sought out the boiled peanut guy and taught the girls how to eat the peanuts and throw them under the seat of the Yankee fan to which he had no knowledge.

At this very moment is when I realized, “This is the first time I’ve ever taught baseball without typing” and it hit me that I absolutely love what I do and this is why I started These little girls had no idea about general rules and traditions of baseball until I taught them and I hope they came away with something that they will look back on and appreciate. The Suns ended up losing the game, but all the kids really had a great time learning about the game and experiencing the traditions in baseball that is like no other sport.

Later on that night, Dasia was telling her mom all about our day at the ball park as she showed her mom the baseball I had bought her. “We couldn’t get any players to sign it but Blythe and all my friends signed it and that is worth more to me than some guy I don’t even know.”

That’s my girl.


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