Thursday, April 28, 2022

A Perfect Game

 It is the rarest of feats. One in which expectations meet the wildest of dreams. Where magic and the moment collide. A perfect game. 

April has been a schizophrenic month. Some days inviting visions of summer. Others reminding us not to put the thermal underwear away quite yet. This morning the good won out, the sun promising to accompany me on my journey, the wind but a whisper. 

I have not been to a Yankee game since 2019. I have not been to virtually any of the old familiar places since then. The world has come to a crashing halt in the intervening years. Our horizons diminished to the barest of bones. Our field of vision limited to the far too unspectacular.

I turned 70 last week. And though I gave my family, and anyone else within the sound of my fingers on my computer, the distinct impression that I needed more than anything else to be feted, what I truly wanted most was to feel my life returning to me. What I had taken as a given, now given back. And nothing felt more natural, or intimate, to me then attending a Yankee baseball game with 40,000 of my closest friends. But most importantly, with my family.

My son and daughter have spent their lifetimes following my passion for baseball, and for my team. And while their interest may have waned as they reached the stage of their lives where other matters consumed their focus, they have always humored their dad, finding time to sit next to me on occasion, listening to my insights on what is, or should be occurring on the field below us.

In recent years, my son in law has joined the cast. But today, as my very special birthday treat, there was one more in our entourage.

My granddaughter is three years old and wouldn't know a Yankee if his name was Aaron Judge and he shook her hand. Her interest at present runs more to Chase from Paw Patrol.

But there she was in the pink Yankee shirt her mom had worn as a little girl. As the five of us headed into the Stadium my expectations were that we would enter a universe that was, to her, loud and more than a little bewildering. That we would remain an inning or two, until her belly was full, her bag of presents was stuffed, and her mind cried out for more welcoming environs and an episode or three of the adventures of Chase and his friends. The game itself would pass unnoticed.

Her mom bought a Yankee hat even as we navigated the line outside the ballpark. Intended for an adult sized head, it soon, and permanently, was situated precariously on top of a three year old noggin.

Once inside, the pre-game music and announcements were set at far too jarring decibel, the concourse enveloped by virtually deafening noise. We anxiously awaited signs that this would be an extremely short afternoon.

But we weathered that storm and settled into our seats. Even before the first pitch was thrown, father and grandfather, with a small child in tow, scoured the stadium for the perfect ice cream, with sprinkles of course. We made it all the way back to our row before the cup overturned onto the ground, not a bite having been taken. But with the five second rule in place and a quick removal of the top layer or so, a crisis was averted.

The game, like the weather, could not have turned out more favorably. In the home team half of the first, there was a screaming two run homer. Maybe, a bit too much screaming for a little girl who has no idea what all the fuss was about.

This led directly to mom, daughter and uncle looking to acquire a suitable stuffed animal to soothe some jangled nerves.

A half inning later they returned with a very fine looking llama dressed in Yankee gear. Its name, so she informed us, was Papa Yankee. He spent the rest of the afternoon clinging tightly to his new best friend. 

A funny thing happened on the way to this being a truncated day in the sun. It turned out not to be that at all.

As the innings came and went, and the home team's lead grew ever larger, so did a three year old's comfort level with being there. She settled in happily, eating her snacks, chatting or playing with us, even once in a while sneaking a peek at the field or the scoreboard. Not with interest, but then again not with disinterest.

By the fifth, with the home team comfortably in the lead, we began to ask our smallest member if she wanted to go. We didn't want to press our luck.

We asked again in the sixth, and then before the seventh. She said she wanted to stay until it was over. And then she said it again. To me, it was like staring at the most beautiful rainbow one could ever imagine. I have been coming to baseball games in the Bronx since I was not much older than my granddaughter is today. Echoes of my dad still reverberate inside me. To see my granddaughter so glad to be in this place, words can't do justice to the level of joy that washed over me.

We left in the middle of the seventh, telling her the game was over (a small fib, as it was for all practical purposes).

On this day I recaptured a bit of what for the longest time had escaped me, as we all have struggled mightily in our terrible collective battle against Covid. And I bathed in the utter, unadulterated pleasure of the presence of those I hold so dear. Including a little girl who held Papa Yankee close to her heart all the way home.

Today, I was at a perfect game.


Anonymous said...

A BD celebration and precious memory to treasure!
She’ll be ready for a double header next year - and at 4, she’ll surely know if you cheat her out of any full 9 inning game!


April 25, 2022 at 6:13 AM 
Anonymous said...

I loved it. Kids can surprise you.


April 25, 2022 at 7:18 AM 
Anonymous said...

The best!


April 25, 2022 at 7:29 AM 
Anonymous said...

Tears are flowing. Thinking of you and your precious family, remembering Saturdays at Yankee Stadium with my dad learning how to keep a box score. All the sights, sounds, smells are so vivid-and the bliss of time with dad and the Yankees!!!
Thank you for sharing a truly perfect game.


April 25, 2022 at 9:18 AM 
Anonymous said...

I am happily surprised that C enjoyed a Yankee game as much as she did. Sounds like you had an A+ day.
Really really nice experience


April 25, 2022 at 9:20 AM 
Anonymous said...

I loved the story


April 25, 2022 at 9:21 AM 
Anonymous said...

Excellent! Thrilled you guys had such a perfect day. Can’t wait to bring M this summer


April 25, 2022 at 9:22 AM 
Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect day to me. Can't believe she made it that long...amazing! Wondering if she was one of the people who threw beer onto the field though :)


April 25, 2022 at 9:23 AM 
Anonymous said...

Nice. Sounds awesome!


April 25, 2022 at 9:27 AM 
Anonymous said...

So special to share something you love with C.
It's nice to have some things return to "normal"


April 25, 2022 at 9:48 AM 
Anonymous said...


Very beautiful.


April 25, 2022 at 11:04 AM 
Anonymous said...

A man after my own heart.


April 25, 2022 at 11:06 AM 
Anonymous said...

Great post, looking forward to being able to do the same with L in 3 years


April 25, 2022 at 3:15 PM 
Anonymous said...

Don't think much of your 40,000 "friends" after their treatment of the Cleveland outfielder.


April 25, 2022 at 5:31 PM 
Anonymous said...

It was certainly one for the books!


April 26, 2022 at 5:44 AM 
Anonymous said...

Sounds like a truly wonderful family day, and anytime you wish to go for 2 innings only, I am more than happy to join


April 26, 2022 at 6:37 AM 
Anonymous said...

She LOVES this Papa Yankee.

Her exact words: "I want to stay until its DONE"

When pressed again by A, "We are staying until nighttime"


April 26, 2022 at 6:38 AM 

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