Fun at the Field
I recently went to my first Alaska Baseball League game, the Anchorage Glacier Pilots vs. the Mat-Su Miners at Mulcahy Stadium. It had been a while since I had taken the kids to a baseball game, and I had forgotten just how much going to one can be.
I generally find baseball fairly boring. It is full of downtime and short on action. In a game well pitched the other team will not have hit the ball once. Basically, two players play catch while everyone else stands around and watches. When a batter does hit the ball, there is a quick moment of excitement while the batter runs and the fielders try to get him and any other base runners out. Then it is back to watching a game of catch again. That’s just while they are playing; add to that the time for the pitcher to warm up each inning, conferences on the pitcher’s mound, and batters taking their time to get into the batter’s box and you have a lot of time with little happening.
However, it all changes at the ballpark. When a player for the home team is getting ready to step up to the plate, his theme music is played and fans are cheering him on. A foul ball is no longer just another strike; it becomes a chance to bring home a special souvenir. The moments before a pitch are the perfect time to cheer on your player or heckle the opposition. Conferences on the mound become the perfect time for the crowd to stand and cheer: “Here we go (insert team name). Here we go,” (clap, clap, clap).
Then there is the between innings entertainment. I’ll admit I have been spoiled in the past by going to many a AAA and Major League game. I knew what to expect there, and wasn’t sure what the ABL would have to offer. While there was no mascot present to entertain the crowd, there were still dizzy bat races, giveaways sending spectators flipping pages in their programs, and the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” for the 7th-inning stretch. I was happy to learn that some things are universal.
I think my kids may have even enjoyed this experience more than the other games they have gone to. In the other stadiums I have been to there isn’t much room for a kid to play. At Mulcahy they had some room to move around and where able to make friends with other children who were doing a bit of roaming themselves. They were also able to stand right next to the fence separating the stands from the field getting close to the action. In fact, their favorite player was a pitcher not pitching that night. He was the one chasing down foul balls that didn’t make it over the fence and tossing them to children in the stands.
I’m sad that the season is almost over and we just discovered how much fun going to the ball field can be. However, the league tournament is coming up, and we may have to make sure to catch a game or two. Perhaps we can even go see the Eagle-River Chugiak Chinooks tonight and cheer our local team to victory.
Lori Spears is the wife of a U.S. Army Captain who lives in Eagle River. Her column appears twice a month in the Star.