Take Me to the Ballpark

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This is the time of year I always looked most forward to as a kid. My friends and I would huddle around someone’s pre-cable TV set and watch the ghosted images of our favorite baseball players move in and out of the snow. Even in that era of bad reception, we could identify our heroes by the way they stood at the plate—Willie Stargell’s signature lean over the plate from the left side; Eddie Murray’s wide, low stance; whatever stance Cal Ripken was trying out for that season. As much as anything else, spring meant baseball for practically every kid in my hometown.

And that hasn’t changed much for me over the years. Having moved to Southern Maryland in the late eighties, I’ve found myself enjoying an embarrassment of riches when it comes to baseball. Each year the options seem to grow. The Orioles have always been a reasonable drive away, albeit a little too far and expensive to encourage regular attendance. The Bowie Baysox began play in the mid-nineties—a little closer and a little less expensive.  And now, in recent years and in rapid succession, both the Washington Nationals and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have moved into town—the latter literally four miles from my front door. On any given day I can choose from the American League, the National League, or two minor league teams. (That’s a lot of batting stances to memorize)

I must admit my favorite choice is the Blue Crabs, and not just for the convenience factor. I’ve always preferred the more intimate confines of a minor league park over a major league stadium, and with the Blue Crabs you’re never far from the action. The worst seat in the house is within easy teeth-rattling line drive range, and the front row is close enough that wearing a replica jersey just might get you in the batting rotation. Also, at six bucks a pop for lawn seating there is plenty of money left over for a funnel cake and a well-poured Guinness.  This year’s home opener is April 29 at 7:05 PM and I’ll probably be there, either hanging out near the funnel cakes or behind the left field fence, trying to snag my first home run ball.

by guest blogger, Mike Billard

photo by Tory Pugliese, Pugliese Photography