Sports

Baseball fever: My kids haven't caught it yet, but there's still a lot of time

It was a day every sports-loving father dreams of. I was going to take my kids to their first professional baseball game. I started floating the idea of watching a Tacoma Rainiers game to my two sons, 4-year-old Isaac and 2-year-old Andy, weeks ago to kind of gauge their interest.

At first, the reaction was a little tepid at best. Thomas the Train and Rescue Heroes are just way more important than home runs and strikeouts in their minds.

So I was a little taken aback when Isaac asked me one day, “Daddy, when are we going to the baseball game?”

“How about tonight,” I said in my best proud parent voice.

“That’ll be cool,” Isaac said as he ran outside and grabbed his Wiffle Ball bat before I could give him the James Earl Jones “People Will Come” speech from Field of Dreams about the significance of the great game of baseball.

“This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

Cheney Stadium is where my family of four most definitely went and it was a night my wife, Sarah, and I will never forget. And it’s probably a night my two sons will never even remember.

After my wife packed up what seemed like our entire house for a three-hour game, we headed down the road to watch the Tacoma Rainiers with baseball hats on.

Finally, it was game time.

I was ready to hunker down in the right-field seats at Cheney Stadium with my two boys and explain the ins and outs of bunt defense and the hit-and-run.

I was ready to watch the starting pitcher warm up in the bullpen and let them know the difference between a two- and a four-seam fastball and how to make a curveball break.

Let’s just say my baseball instructional video shoot never materialized and I blame whoever OK’d the installation of the three blow-up toys directly in front of the stadium’s entry gate.

The tractor beam around the 30-foot meandering dragon, jumping pit and slide pulled in my two sons faster than a new Pixar Animation DVD (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Toy Story). The same tractor beam also got a hold of my wallet when I had to pull it out and plop down $20, which allowed my kids the pleasure of jumping around while a baseball game was being played.

So after listening to the National Anthem while holding my kids’ shoes and a 10-pound bag of kettle corn, I tried to convince them to head into the ballpark and pick out our seats — because that still hadn’t happened.

Two innings later, and several dozen trips up and down the slide, I finally got my wish.

With our gear in tow — kettle corn, shoes, diaper bag, two changes of clothes, milk cups, corn dogs, ect — we rolled into the $5 general admission section together. And in a stunning development, all four of us were actually able to sit down together for a good two minutes. I think I had time to witness at least one at-bat and wolf down my corn dog. Because as a parent of two little boys, you learn that finishing a meal is a lot more important than enjoying it.

That’s when the free-for-all began for Isaac and Andy.

Like a pair of contortionists at a Las Vegas show, the two escape artists found a way through our two sets of arms and into the aisle way. They started running up and down the stairs until a wrestling match started near the top of the bleachers.

After corralling the kids and leading them back down to our seats, they broke out of our custody again.

On an aside, they must plan these escapes while we’re not looking, because they always seem to execute them perfectly. One will go one direction, causing Dad to take off, then the other one will bolt, leading Mom the other way.

These escape attempts lasted a couple innings before we finally gave up and allowed them run wind sprints up and down the concourse. The track meet ended when an usher politely told us we had to sit down. I don’t think she has any children.

That’s when things got a lot better for me. My perfect wife allowed me a full inning and a half to get my baseball fix for the night when she followed both of them on one of their 40-yard sprints back to the blow-up toys.

While they played, I got to sit and relax on the metal bleachers with my $5 non-kid-friendly adult beverage and watch some future Mariners play the great game of baseball.

It was perfect and I got just enough “Dad time” that I really didn’t mind when I saw Isaac and Andy rolling around the corner with my wife at a full jog behind them saying, “It’s time to go.” I didn’t even ask what happened.

Oh well, there will be plenty more baseball games for the Olson family to watch together. But, for now, we’ll stick to taking them in on the TV.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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