It’s Black & White
It’s been years since I last attended a ball game. Almost ten years. I don’t pay much attention to sports. Last night, thanks to the generosity of someone my father knows, my father, a coworker and her family, and I acquired tickets to the Sox game. 100 level, twenty-three rows up from right field.
White Sox vs. Orioles. A Beautiful evening as far as the weather, especially those cool breezes coming in at the top of the ninth. Although I’ve been to a ball game once before, I didn’t get the opportunity to watch the entire game. Only two and a half innings, because the game was rained out, and it was a class field trip, so there was a tight schedule dictating how long we students could stay. So I was excited about this game. It was kind of like my first baseball game. Like my father’s coworker’s sons, at least one of whom was attending his first ball game. Or like my father’s cousin from England, who attended his first ball game in the nineties. My father told me that his cousin was so excited that he cheered every time a player hit the ball, no matter what team was batting.
There were more than twenty-six thousand people in the stands. Staring out at the stands, from the lower to upper decks, the sight of so many people astounded me. Amongst the black and white shirts and hats in the stadium seats, looking like a blotched, irregular chess board, there were dozens of yellowish lime neon figures walking up and down the stands. They were the men lugging coolers, strapped across their shoulders, containing the peanuts, the hot dogs, and the beers. Five bucks for a hot dog. Seven bucks for a beer. One of these men was an older, slightly obese fellow, with a towel stuffed under his ball cap to absorb the sweat, and support braces wrapped around his knees. This led to the first thought I had about the game: the job these overpriced goodie vendors had to do. Walking up and down, up and down, yelling out to the crowd what it is they’re selling. Repeat process again and again. Everywhere I go, whether it be a wedding, a banquet, a restaurant, or in last night’s case, a major league baseball game, I always observe the workers. The people who are laboring, serving, and maintaining in order to keep the wheels turning, the ball rolling, and so that the single event itself thrives and meets the needs of those in attendance. As much as I wouldn’t want to be one of these workers, I can’t help but feel bad being unlike them, as the patron. One of many who are expected to demand their services at some point. It’s a somber thought that always comes to mind wherever I go.
Eventually, I started to get into the game, letting go the reality that not everyone is there to exclusively enjoy the game. Years ago, back at IIT, which is only three blocks from U.S. Cellular Field, I can recall hearing the fireworks being shot off whenever the Sox hit a home run. I finally got to experience these fire works in person when Gordon Beckham hit a three run homer in the seventh inning. The cloud of smoke left from the fireworks display fell upon the stands in left field, fogging out the cheering fans. The unison of the fans’ emotions was interesting, especially in the ninth, when the orioles started catching up to the Sox. Santos was at the mound in the beginning of the inning, but was replaced with Putz when he allowed four batters to reach safely. Putz was sent back and replaced with Jenks after only two pitches. Apparently Putz injured himself after the second pitch, and I’ve read that he’ll be on the fifteen day disabled list. Bobby Jenks was sent to the mound, and some theme song-video began to play on the big screen at center field. The crowd was cheering wildly, shouting “Bobby, Bobby” all together. It was this point that the game was said and done. Sure enough, Jenks struck the batter out, and once gain, the fireworks lit the night sky.
What it was that made me feel this way, I can’t quite point out, but I felt a certain essence while in those stands. Although I’m not a sports fan, actually very far from one, I couldn’t help but enjoy that game. It’s something that I’d like to do again, and soon. The people in the stands were happy, and enjoying themselves. Inside U.S. Cellular Field, I felt removed from the common stresses and dismay that I often observe and feel outside, in Chicago. Even if the beer was seven bucks, people bought them two at a time, and smiling while they did. It was like a party; a minor holiday that can be celebrated soon enough.