Back to the Ballpark!Emily Malone
I wouldn’t call my husband an avid baseball fan, but he does love going to games. For many years we lived in Cincinnati and cheered on our beloved Reds, but now that we’re out in Seattle we’re enjoying the spirit of a new team as well. The first year that we lived here, I was pregnant through summer baseball season, and we went to a few games here and there. (Of course looking back, I wish we’d gone to more.) We discovered all the delicious food (veggie hot dogs!), fabulous city views, and Seattle spirit that the stadium had to offer.
Last summer was Cullen’s first, and I think over the course of the summer we took him to three games. Maybe it was two, it’s hard to remember. The first game he went to was really early in the season, and he was probably five or six months old. He spent most of the game crying when people cheered (so loud! so scary!) or snoozing on my chest in the Ergo carrier. He slept easily on the go, so timing the baseball game around him was no big deal even for a night game. We took him to another game at the very end of the summer, when he was around 11-months old. He spent a lot of that game bouncing in our laps or being offered snacks, and if I remember correctly there was a short Ergo snooze during that game as well.
This summer is totally different. Cullen is a toddler now, and the baby days of no schedule, chest naps, breastfeeding, and baby carriers are long behind us. Most of the games here are scheduled at either 1:15 or 7:15pm—prime toddler napping or sleeping hours, which has made it very difficult to plan an outing to the ballpark. A while back I noticed that there was one rare 4:15 game coming up in June (this weekend!), and I bought tickets to surprise my husband with for Father’s Day.
Last night was our first trip to the ballpark this season, and overall I think it was a success! I packed a million snacks and had Cullen coated in no less than 2 inches of sunscreen on his entire body. The high was 88! We also bought tickets with friends, which meant that Cullen would have a buddy there, and I knew that would help.
When we got there he was content to sit in our laps and take in the crowds and the noise for a while. We lasted in our seats for four innings, which I thought was actually pretty impressive (standards have drastically changed, obviously). After that, I took Cullen to the pro shop to get a new ball cap (he outgrew his baby cap, sniff!) and let him stretch his legs. What I should have realized at the time is that once we left our seats, it was really hard to convince him to go back.
Luckily, I’d scored us tickets on the Club Level of the ballpark, which had relatively empty long hallways that were clean and carpeted. The boys were able to get down and run and burn off energy, while the moms chased them up and down and laughed and talked, and the dads got to enjoy a few kid-free innings and adult conversation. We found a great area with barstools facing directly toward homeplate, and set up camp there to eat our ballpark dinner. I may have had my hands full with a toddler, but there was no way I was missing out on my veggie dog.
We spent most of the rest of the game letting Cullen run in the empty hall, taking turns between innings, or otherwise distracting him with snacks. I’m probably making it sound exhausting (and okay, it was) but it was still a lot of fun. I think going with our friends and having other toddler parents there to laugh and commiserate with helped keep it lighthearted and fun, instead of feeling like an athletic event of our own.
I never really expected that we’d be sitting down filling out score cards the whole time, so I was pleasantly surprised that we got to see as much of the game as we did. And of course, seeing Cullen in his little baseball jersey made all the tiring chasing more than worth it. He danced to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, shoved a soft pretzel in his mouth faster than he could chew, and clapped when the crowd went wild. It was a totally different experience than previous games, but incredibly fun in its own, new way.
There is one more 4:15 PM game left this season, and we’ll probably go again. Next time we’ll have an even better idea of what to expect too. Casey is already talking about taking Cullen to games by himself next summer – a special treat just for Cullen and dad. In a few years these toddler chasing days will feel like a distant memory, and we’ll have moved onto foam fingers and ice cream sundaes served in mini helmets. (They still do that, right?)
Our first trip back to the ballpark this year may have been different, but at the end of the day it still felt like a home run.