Listen carefully, do you hear it? It is a special sound and one I’m sure you remember. It is the sound of a bat striking a ball. Sometimes it is a “crack” of a wooden bat but more recently it is often the distinctive “ping” of a metal bat but in either case it is music to the ears who play and watch a ball game. Many of us have been eagerly awaiting to hear those sounds. Ever since Abner Doubleday invented the game in 1839 Americans have been playing ball. It is America’s summer pastime and enjoyed by people of all ages and ability levels. And guess what? It’s back!!
There are other sounds associated with ball games that we have come to expect and enjoy to hear. The sound of umpires saying “play ball”, “steeerike”, “you’re out”, “foul ball”, among others. Then there is the sound of kids playing ball. What a special sound. The endless “chatter” to disrupt the concentration of a batter or a pitcher. You know what I’m talking about. One of the classics from my childhood playing days was, “Hey we want a pitcher not a belly itcher”. The ladies are, in my opinion, the best at dugout “chatter”. Very creative, loud, and often humorous but always with great enthusiasm. But most importantly I love the sound of kids having fun and especially having fun outdoors.
Besides the sounds associated with ball games and ball diamonds there are sights and smells as well. Who doesn’t like seeing a kid make a great defensive play, consistently pitch strikes, or “knock one out of the park”? We like watching because we are seeing before our very eyes the development of our next generation. These kids grow up so very quickly and we don’t want to miss a single game or a single opportunity to provide encouragement.
Oh yes, let’s not forget the smells and tastes of ball park concession stands, or as one of my granddaughters calls them “hut stands”. It seems each ball park has their own culinary specialties. From the traditional hot dogs, burgers, and cheese nachos, to the more recent “walking taco”. Of course there needs to be popcorn and soft-drinks, but don’t forget the candy. You know, the suckers that look like pacifiers, gummy worms, and of course my favorite, frozen ice-cream Milky Ways. There is always something for everyone and it is just part of going to the ball park. I should also mention the smell of sweaty dirty uniforms and the kids who wear them. Sweat and dirt should be part of every child’s summer experience. Really it’s ok.
So I hope you will join me at the ball park this summer. I’ll be the crazy grandpa embarrassing my grandkids by shouting their number when they are up to bat. Who knows I may even buy you something from the “hut stand”.
Dr. Steve Gruber is a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate