This post would not have been possible without our friends, Daniel and Stephanie Rensing, and Stephanie’s father, Mr. Bob Jordan. We owe all of the memories of Eitan’s first baseball game to you guys. Please take a minute to check out their amazing line of baking products at The Smart Baker.
Also, this post is part of the “Future Fanatics” campaign being run by Fanatics, the leading online retailer of everything sports. Fanatics is a one stop shop for everything sports, from your favorite team’s baseball hat to the Cubs jersey Eitan will get when he’s older (and we don’t have to worry about him spilling food on it). Check out their site to see how other “Future Fanatics” are getting their start.
I don’t remember my first baseball game.
I went to four baseball games in person when I lived in Chicago: three to see the Cubs at Wrigley Field and one to see the White Sox at the “new” Comiskey Park.1 The truth is, I don’t remember much of any of them. I remember that Andre Dawson hit a home run at each of the Cubs games. I remember thinking that the Sox were cooler than the Cubs because their stadium had a jumbo-tron and Wrigley Field had that
boring charming manual-operated scoreboard. I remember that at my third Cubs game, we sat next to the railing in foul territory on the first base side, the last three seats in the row between our section and the bleachers to my right. At that game, I remember furtively waving my hand every once in a while just in case a television camera was filming me without my realizing it. I remember that we left that game early because my brother was with us and he was no older than six or seven and he was falling asleep. I remember standing at the L station outside Wrigley Field, listening to the crowd cheer in the stadium behind us. I remember a man standing on the opposite platform with a huge bag of wrapped presents that came undone and spilled down onto the train tracks and the way the people next to him helped him hook each gift and pull them back up.
Most of all, I remember the crowd. I remember being in awe at the sheer volume of people in the stadium and how amazing it was to hear 30,000 people cheering, “Let’s go Cubs!” in unison. I remember watching 30,000 pairs of hands clapping to applaud a strikeout and hearing 30,000 voices scream, “Charge!” after the piped-in bugle played. I remember the organ and singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” with Harry Caray (who, by that point, I had finally realized was not my grandfather) along with all of those 30,000 other strangers. I don’t remember the score; I don’t even remember who the opponents were. I just knew we were all fans, we were all there for the Cubs and we were all having a blast.
We brought Eitan to his first baseball game this past weekend. He had a very different experience than I did when I was younger, for a number of reasons. For one thing, we were at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, a much more modern and fan-friendlier stadium than Wrigley Field. For another, we had been invited by old-school friends of Trudy’s to watch the game from the luxury box that they had for the evening, which meant that all of the food and drink was catered, Eitan had some space to run around (although he actually sat and watched a lot of the game with me) and we even got a personal visit from Mr. Met.
I’ll admit, I was a little uncomfortable about the idea of Eitan’s first game not involving the Cubs at all. I know he’s going to make his own decisions about sports allegiances, just as every child does, but I want him to be a Cubs fan. I know there are all kinds of reasons why I should spare him the misery, but I want to share the love of the team with him. You can fault the Cubs for many things, but treating their fans well is not one of them. It’s a badge of honor being a Cubs fan and I want Eitan to know that feeling. So I knew it was going to be difficult to pull him away from a mascot with a giant baseball for a head or the ice cream in the little New York helmet or the bright flashing lights of the scoreboard.
In the end, we all had such a good time that I almost didn’t care that we were cheering for the Mets. For me, it made no difference that we were cheering for another loser team; it’s not like they were going to knock the Cubs out of a playoff spot or anything.2 I had gotten what I wanted: we were sharing baseball together. We were cheering in unison with 30,000 strangers and we were joining in the highs and lows of a hard-fought battle on the basepaths. We ate, we laughed, we ooh-ed and ahh-ed.
And in the middle of it all, we made this moment:
Forget the finger; we’ll make a Cubs fan out of him yet.
I don’t remember my first game and Eitan probably won’t remember his either. But I’ll never forget bringing him.
1. That was right after they re-did the “old” Comiskey Park. I’m pretty sure it’s still the same stadium today, although it’s had two or three different corporate sponsor names since the early 90s.↩
2. Playoffs?!? The Cubs? Hah!↩