Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Sunday Night in the Ballpark

I do not know exactly how long the unaffiliated Somerset Patriots - a minor league team that is a member of the independent Atlantic League - has called home the baseball stadium that is located less than a ten minute drive from my front door.  While it is never going to be mistaken for Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, it is quite a beautiful little minor league ballpark.  There is not a bad seat in the house. 

I do know that in all of the years that they have called their home theirs and I have called my home mine, I have made the trip from my place to their place only three times. 

The first time was in the early summer of 2000. Rob and I went to watch Tim Raines and Pat Kelly - former Yankees both - toiling on the Patriots as each tried to corral a spot on the roster of the 2000 Olympic baseball team.  I do not think either did but I do recall both being an exceptionally good sport the night we went to watch them play.  They sat and signed every piece of whatever that every child brought them to sign. 

The second time was a few years later - I do not recall when exactly.  The Canseco Brothers were playing for the Newark Bears and Rob and I went to the ballpark to watch Jose Canseco up close and personal.  While he was not an autograph-signing kind of dude, he still possessed tremendous thunder in his bat.  During one of his at-bats he hit a home run down the left field line that cleared the 319 foot sign by at least seventy-five to one hundred feet.

The third time was this past Sunday night.  Margaret, Joe and I attended Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Night at the ballpark, which is now called "TD Bank Ballpark".  A woman with whom Margaret works and with whom she has become friends lost her husband to pancreatic cancer in the infamous summer of '09, which began for us with Margaret's mom losing her own epic cancer battle.  Dolores, Margaret's friend, and her family have channeled their grief over the loss of a husband and father in the most positive way possible.  Dolores's daughter Stephanie has become very active in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  She was instrumental in putting together Sunday night's affair.  Last year she was at the forefront of organizing a New Jersey Purple Strides 5K Walk that Margaret participated in, which was held in early November.  A 5K run has been added to the itinerary for the day's festivities on Sunday November 6th.  I am pleased to report that I shall be joining my bride. 

While it is not a place I frequent, I am glad that on Sunday night I made the short hop to watch the Patriots game.  It was nice to bear witness to something that is a labor of love from daughter to father.  And it was nice to bear witness to Margaret and Joe spending some father/daughter time of their own doing something neither gets to do too often:  relaxing and enjoying one another's company.

I do not go to many baseball games at all these days - irrespective of the level of play or the field on which the game shall be contested.  It was nice to go on Sunday night.  It was nice to be reminded that while you were there watching others work, you were watching them work at something each of them loves.  Think about it for a second.  When is the last time you went to a baseball game and heard the umpire shout, "Work Ball!" 

Me neither.  'Nuff said.


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