By 1:55, we were in the ballpark (with thanks to the old gentleman who gave us three free tickets!) and getting settled down the third base line. Yes, we've taken in some baseball in Staunton and in Myrtle Beach this year, but Lynchburg is our baseball home. It was nice to sit in City Stadium and get Andrew acclimated to life in the Hill City. Andrew was present in utero the last time we attended a Hillcats game. Here is a shot of Andrew just after we sat down. As you can see, trusty sidekick Lion got in on Andrew's ticket.
When we arrived at the ballpark, I told Andrew that I wanted him to meet a friend of mine. Little did he know that the friend was the furry mascot of the home team - Southpaw! Andrew was unsure for a moment. When he realized SP posed no threat, he wanted to tell Southpaw his life story. He gave Southpaw a high five and started to tell him about Fireman Sam. I finally got Andrew to turn around so we could get a picture. Sorry to the guy in the Southpaw outfit for having to listen to my little boy ramble about his new fascination. From this moment on, Southpaw was his friend and he wanted to know where SP was at all times. This was very similar to any time we are on the JMU campus and Andrew goes to "I Spy" mode looking for Duke Dog. It was also similar to earlier this year when he met Splash the Pelican in Myrtle Beach. He's a sucker for someone in the fuzzy suit (okay, so am I).
As the game progressed, Tam and I both tried to get Andrew to take in the kid's bounce attraction behind our section. He wanted no part of that, as well as no part of peeing in the bathrooms. I am telling everybody this kid is part camel! Everyone started to get hot late in the game, so we moved to great seats right behind home plate. By this point, the ushers were done for the season. It was great to sit right behind the action and right next to the used pitchers charting pitches and using the radar guns. Around the time the game moved into the eighth inning, we decided to call it a day. A quick stop to the gift shop provided Andrew with a Southpaw keychain (the only stuffed Southpaw in the house) and me with a new sticker for the car.
Andrew, thanks for taking Daddy to the baseball game. I hope you develop both a great love of the game itself and a love for the Carolina League team in our backyard. They have provided me with a lot of great moments in my life and I hope they do the same for you.
Tam, thanks for putting up with this impulsive road trip! It wasn't that long ago when we made this trip all the time with the same snap planning, but I know circumstances have changed in the past three years. We may have only been in City Stadium for two and a half hours, but I think you know how special the place is to me and I appreciate your willingness to go. I stole your last day off until Thanksgiving...sorry about that. ---J
P.S. - During the month of January, someone please remind me about today. Please also remind me to tell one of a hundred Lynchburg baseball stories (liquid evenings with pitchers of beer served by the great old lady, Lou the usher who used to tell us World War II stories when he wasn't shooing kids out of the box seats, trading baseballs for beers with umpires, standing on the roof watching the July 4th fireworks display, meeting Boog Powell, Tommy John, and the San Diego Chicken, doing a half inning on the radio broadcast...see, I said there were a lot of those. :)