Taking Two Boys Out to The Ballgame

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MINUTE MAID PARK — I was 12 when Dad took me to my first major-league game, in September 1967. At least, it is the first game I recall. It is possible we attended a game at Fenway Park when I was younger. A faint memory remains. Sadly, there is nobody left to ask.

My brother Scott and our buddy Bruce Courtemanche also attended that next-to-last game of the season. Improbably, the Red Sox as we watched could tie for first place by beating the Twins. The Red Sox in a pennant race was not something my dad imagined when he bought the tickets early in the season. The Sox were perennial cellar dwellers and had finished ninth the year before, when both leagues were comprised of 10 teams. But they beat the Twins that afternoon as we watched from the right-field bleachers, then won again the next day to clinch the pennant and head to the World Series for the first time since 1941. All of Allenstown Elementary School crowded into the school cafeteria to watch the day games.

The Sox lost that series to the St. Louis Cardinals, keeping alive the Curse of the Bambino. The curse was finally broken in 2004 — 86 years after it was created when the Red Sox dumbly traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees, after winning the World Series in 1918 with the Bambino on the mound. Since 2004, the Sox have twice more won the championship and currently sport the best record in baseball.

I know. It’s June, early yet to get one’s hopes up. But there we were last weekend, watching the Red Sox play the Astros, who won their first World Series last year, deservedly so. My daughter, Mere, and son-in-law, Matt, as well as our nephew Connor and his friend, Jacob, both 13, joined my Beautiful Mystery Companion and me.

For the two teens, this was their first major-league ballgame. They came well-equipped with baseball gloves in the unlikely event a foul ball sliced around the protective netting and into the stands where we sat off third base, 33 rows up. I brought my glove to Fenway for that game in 1967, along with a banner that Bruce and I created in hopes of getting on television. We caught neither a ball nor any television time.


            Taking a couple of kids to a major-league ballgame for their first visit is great fun. We took a Lyft mini-van from Mere and Matt’s house to the stadium, which meant we were dropped off practically curbside. The boys clambered out and looked wide-eyed at the park looming on the horizon, hordes of folks streaming toward the entrances. Mere recalled the first time she went to the Astrodome. Older sister Kasey had a crush on Craig Biggio. Years later, while in high school, Kasey announced she planned to marry Derek Jeter, the longtime Yankees shortstop. I conferred my blessing on this fantasy nuptial, figuring the fellow could keep her in high style. Besides, he seemed like a nice guy. Still does.

The boys settled into their seats, eyes wide as the players warmed up. Eventually each followed my BMC out to the souvenir store, returning with Astros caps, jerseys and a Lucite-encased baseball. Oh, and a couple of sacks of Chic-Fil-A.


It is tough to root against the Astros, but I have no choice when they play the Red Sox. On my mom’s side, the passion for the team goes back generations, back when Ted Williams was in left field and became the last MLB player to hit over .400. But the Astros have always held a firm second place grip on my heart, cemented after last season. Winning the World Series in the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey was, well, amazing.

The Red Sox won this game, 5-4, and ultimately split the series. Right now, the Astros and Sox are the best two teams in baseball. I figure they’ll meet again in October, vying once again to represent the American League in the Fall Classic. If so, I’ll root for the Sox and won’t be heartbroken if the ’Stros win again, as they did last season.

            My friend Joe Holley, the Native Texan columnist for the Houston Chronicle, recently published an account of last season titled “Hurricane Season.” It is a fine read. I recommend it highly for both baseball fans and anyone whose life was affected by Harvey.

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