When I was eight years old, I had the best collection of baseball cards, the envy of all the boys in my class, worthy of much whispered side conversation and covert trading during lessons. We collected cards from the back panels of POST cereal boxes, cutting out the 8 cards on each box. Every morning before school, during recesses, and noon hour, the girls and the boys would race to the closet to grab their respective bat and ball and then claim the best makeshift diamond in the schoolyard. We’d play like sluggers, getting dusty and sweaty much to the chagrin of our prim and proper “old maid” teacher, Miss Gilmour. (Really, I loved Miss Gilmour, she, who saved the best of her lunch as the treat to the student who stayed after school to help her clean the old chalk boards. She and her older, maiden sister were from the early class of female teachers who remained single, instead married to their vocation and having a new family of children every September.) The start of school and watching the World Series on TV were my favourite parts of September. While Buffalo, NY, the big city right across the river from my house, never had a major league ball team, most everyone I knew, knew baseball and it was a feature of the summer nightly news on the American TV stations we watched with clearer reception than the CBC.
So being in this iconic American city, there’s nothing quite like being one of 25,000 fans at a national league baseball game, my first ever. Chicago is home to 2 great ball clubs: the Cubs playing out of Wrigley Field, and the 2005 World Series champs, the White Sox, housed at the US Cellular Stadium.
The CTA Red Line made for an efficient trip south to the stadium. Seated just rows up from the first baseline, we watched the White Sox play the Seattle Mariners to extend their winning streak to 10. The surrounding thunderclouds didn’t stand a chance with ovations given to the team’s 2 consecutive home runs. Fireworks signaled each of their 6 runs and the night’s win, made decisive by their closing pitcher who struck out each of the 3 Mariners within minutes.
Summertime in Edmonton is going to an evening ballgame at Telus Field, a stadium beautifully situated in our river valley, lazily watching the sun set as the innings pass. This Wednesday night was memorable for the vastness, enthusiasm and intensity of it all…so iconically American and so much a part of me.