I love baseball. I’ve loved it since I was a kid. Some of my fondest memories of growing up include the baseball games that my Dad or Grandpa would take me to at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park in Chicago. I’ll never forget waiting for autographs at the players’ parking lot after the game. I’ll never forget holding a stack of baseball cards hoping that Ryne Sandberg of the Chicago Cubs would come and autograph a card for me. I’ll never forget chasing a foul ball at Wrigley Field, tripping over the steps, injuring my knee, and having to leave that game early. I’ll never forget the first Grand Slam I saw, when Jose Cruz of the Houston Astros launched one over the left field wall at Wrigley. And, I’ll never foget witnessing Jack Morris pitch a sloppy no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park.
Last night I had a chance to once again take my kids to a professional baseball game. One of the advantages to living in Minneapolis is that we get to watch the Twins play live for less than it costs to go to a movie. Chris’ church group was going for a group outing, and I got to chaperone. Breanna was invited to come along as a junior chaperone, and each one of my children brought a friend.
Going to a game with the Schulenburg family is an event. We try to have a good time, not just watching the game, but by being entertainment for those who come along with us. Every time we go on a group outing, my kids play a practical joke on those around us. They pretend that I’m a former baseball player. This is how it works — We’ll walk through the Metrodome, and my kids will run about fifty yards in front of me and then turn around to start walking towards me. Pretty soon they’ll act very suprised and excited. Their walk becomes and all out run, and their indoor voices are now outdoor voices.
“Hey, didn’t you used to play baseball?”
I never answer that question.
“Can I have your autograph?”
Pretty soon I’m autographing a piece of paper, a hat, a ball or sometimes even a hand.
Then, invariably complete strangers start to ask me for my autograph. I give it to them, and then they ask, “Who did you play for?”
“Oh, I never played,” I answer.
And they start laughing like crazy.
I think I must have autographed items for 20 people last night. My kid’s friends were cracked up.
But the funniest part of the night came when Chris and his friend Nathaniel were looking over the balcony of the Metrodome. “Oh gross!” came the words out of Nathaniel’s mouth. He had discovered that someone had put a piece of chewing gum on his back. Instinctively he took the gum off his back and threw it over the balcony. I think things started to go into slow motion here for Chris and Nathaniel. Because, it was then that they realized that there were people sitting directly below them on the first level.
Chris and Nathaniel watched in horror and amusement as Nathaniel’s gum dropped perfectly into the waiting beer cup of a rather drunk ballpark patron below them. The guy didn’t notice. Chris and Nathaniel’s eyes were riveted now. There would be no taking their eyes off of this fellow until they saw if he would put the cup to his mouth. Within seconds he did just that. Taking the cup to his mouth, he took a large gulp of his malt beverage. And with his gulp, he took in more than just beer, he soon found a piece of gum in his mouth as well.
“I’ll get you for this,” yelled the stranger.
But he had no idea where the gum had come from.
When we dropped Chris and Breanna’s friends off at their home, the four mouths could not tell fast enough the events of our little baseball game. Four mouths talking at once in excited tones about what they had just experienced. It was too much for any adult to take in all at once. Overwhelmed by the rate of communication, Nathaniel’s dad came and talked to me about the night.
And then, we just stopped talking, and watched. Watched as our children were children. Remembering what it was like to be a child myself.
I love baseball, but I love my kids more. It was fun to laugh with them, and experience life in such a fun way. Aren’t you glad that God invented fun? He loves laughter. He loves when families laugh together.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22