Wednesday, April 3, 2013

America's Pastime (or more aptly named "boring you with baseball")

My first Opening Day at Nats Park was amazing.

I come by my love of baseball naturally.  My gram would take score while listening to St. Louis games on the radio in her kitchen.  How great is that?  My dad dresses in full-on Cardinal gear while watching games on television.  Mike's love is real, folks.  Also Dad's game time sound effects are entertaining.  He screams like Marv from Home Alone after Kevin McAllister shows him what's up.

Since I was a girl my family played "pick a player" when we go to the stadium.  Rules:  Every McKown selects one player.  If your player hits a home run, everyone owes you $1.  Likewise you pay $1 when someone else's player hits a home run.  (We haven't adjusted for inflation.)

My first "pick a player" player was Jack Clark and he played for the Cardinals from 1985 to 1987.  My allowance was $1 a week so it was a risky endeavor for a kindergartener.  Mike and Pat = unafraid of accepting dollar bills from children since the early 80s.  I love that. 

My family will be here later in April for a game.  Dad's "pick a player" will undoubtedly be someone NOT on the Nats.  I will look at him with disdain but he will not care.

I lately added "visit every baseball park" to my bucket list.  This summer I will visit my eleventh  team park (the Milwaukee Brewers) at my family reunion.  I like visiting ballparks as much as I like visiting national basically...I am very cool.  (Jokes!)  I have memories of each one:

  • St. Louis Cardinals
    • Learned to love the game at Busch Stadium 
    • Ozzie Smith backflips
    • Classy fans
  • Chicago Cubs
    • Ivy on the outfield walls!
  • Oakland A's
    • The stadium is gargantuan 
    • I've never been that cold at a game in my life
  • Boston Red Sox
    • The Green Monster!
    • These people are for real about the game
  • New York Mets
    • I saw the Nats play and WIN at CitiField! 
    • Was told to "sit down" by Mets fan when I throttled out of my seat in merriment and glee.  IT WAS AMAZING.  I felt like a true fan.  (Okay: so it was awkward and I was a bit distraught, but completely worth it in retrospect.)
    • First time I had sushi at a ball game
  • New York Yankees
    • These people are also for real about the game
    • Excellent snacks
    • Saw Ichiro play his first game for the Yankees
  • Cincinnati Reds
    • First time I sat on level one
  • Atlanta Braves
    • The Braves are the nemesis of my teams (Cardinals, Nats) but I liked Turner Field
  • Baltimore Orioles
    • First time I rode an escalator at a game
  • Washington Nationals
    • I don't have pleasant memories of RFK, although that's where I started to love the Nats.  They were down and out then and needed fans so I signed up.  At one game it felt like 90% of the fans were for the other team.  Their boos overpowered our cheering.  So depressing--but then things got better!
    • We've entered the promised land! (biblical metaphor--can't help it)
    • Nats Park combines my love of politics, history and baseball.  Can't beat it.
    • Nats Park is so DC.
    • Our mascots are presidents of the US.  HISTORY!  Our newest addition is President Taft who we call 'Bill' which feels too personal (how about William?) but I'll get used to it
    • I always hear the John Adams soundtrack blaring, which tickles me to no end
    • We sing "God Bless America" in addition to "Take me out to the Ball Game"
    • We salute soldiers who are recuperating at Walter Reed.  They sit in a special section and we give them a standing ovation every game
    • There is more...but I'll leave that for another post.
Please please please do yourself a favor and enjoy America's pastime this summer!
Go Nats!  Our first of many curly Ws.


  1. While I am not nearly as devoted of a fan of the game as you are, I too find great enjoyment in visiting baseball parks. There is something special and truly unique about watching the game live and in person. A true American pasttime.

    I also would love to experience every ballpark one day, but being in Texas limits easy access to more than just a few.

    Here's my list:

    Houston Astros
    * My first memories of the game were with my family at the Astrodome as a young child; my dad was a store manager for HEB Grocery and would occasionally get free tickets from vendors.
    * I've also been to the new Minute Maid Park for a couple of games in recent years, but sadly, the current crop of Astros are short in the win column.

    Texas Rangers
    * Vague memories of the old Ranger Stadium.
    * A number of good trips to the new Ballpark in Arlington (although that is the most uncreatively named venue in the sport); my daughter Janae saw her first big league games here

    Baltimore Orioles
    * One summer when the CBF general assembly was in DC, Andy McGlothlin and I took the train up to Baltimore and saw them play the Yankees here. I think we even got free tickets from someone at the gate; a rainstorm brewed around the 5th or 6th inning - we stayed through a long rain delay until the game started back up again, but it was eventually called around the 7th or 8th inning. We were soaking wet and cold on the train ride back to DC!

    Atlanta Braves
    * Was in Atlanta for another event, not sure what, but picked up a couple outfield seats and like you, I'm not a Braves fan but I really enjoyed Turner Field.

    Anaheim Angels (ok, that's what they were called when I saw them)
    * Nice field in Anaheim. Nothing fancy but a good all-purpose park.

    Los Angeles Dodgers
    * Dodger Stadium. Iconic.
    * I've seen several games here on various trips to LA.
    * I'm not a big fan of hot dogs except at baseball games and the Dodger Dog is one of the best.
    * Beautiful location in LA - looking out over the outfield you can see the mountains; idyllic scenery.
    * I saw Fernando Valenzuala pitch a no-hitter here on June 29, 1990. Absolutely the most electric and exciting experience I've ever had at a major sporting event. 'Nuf said.

    1. Jon,

      Thanks for sharing your joy of ballparks too! I especially enjoyed learning about the Texas stadiums. I can't believe I didn't go to an Astros or Rangers game while I lived in Texas!!! Dodger Stadium is on the "can't miss" list!

      Blessings on you and your family!