My View from the Bleachers

Miller Park is named, not for a baseball legend, but for the Miller Brewing Company.  And on this glorious summer Saturday, 40,000 tailgaters toast their namesake with double-fisted gusto.  My wife and I, caught in the high tide of Happy Hour, wash up amid the human flotsam and jetsam outside Gate C. One reveler, eyeing my white cane, observes that I walk straighter than most.  “Got to,” I reply.  “I’m calling balls and strikes.”

We pop through the turnstile as the first inning ends and, rather than search for Fan Services—where they hand out real-time radios—we head for Section 227, Row 4, Seats 7&8, where we sit. Real-time radios are cool because they keep blind spectators like me in sync with the real-time game.  But I’m prepared with Plan B—my 1992 Day-Glo yellow Walkman whose radio feed is only delayed about three seconds—and that’s close enough to reality for me.

But the old Walkman remains mute as I twirl the dial.  “Should have checked this thing before we left the house,” I tell my wife.  “Got any double A batteries on you?”

She hands me a lipstick tube.  “Closest thing I’ve got.”

I advance to Plan C—my 21st Century streaming radio iPhone app.  I’m told streaming involves delay—how long the delay I calculate by asking my wife to tell me when she sees a pitch hit the catcher’s mitt on the field versus when I hear it hit the mitt on the radio.  Twenty-five seconds.  Heck, in twenty-five seconds, even the laziest baseball game can come alive with a screaming line drive hit right at my noggin but speared one-handed by my wife, saving my life and earning her a standing ovation and a cameo on the JumboTron.  And I’d have been oblivious to the drama.

“Shall I bring you into the here and now or leave you to your version of history?” asks my wife, sensing my time-delay dilemma,

“I want the best of both worlds,” I say.  I plug in one earbud and cock the other ear toward my wife.

“It’s a full count on Bryant,” she says.

“He’s not even up yet,” I reply.

I hear the crack of the bat.  Then my wife says, “Bet you five bucks Bryant’s going to single to right.”

“What do you take me for, a chump?” I say, knowing she could clean me out, five bucks at a time, and I’d let her.

In the seventh inning, we sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  We are melody and harmony.  I put my arm around my wife and we sway to the music.  I am grateful for what I have and whom I have.  I am grateful to be taken out to the ball game, taken out with the crowd, bought some peanuts and Cracker Jack.  I gaze ahead, searching for signs of life in the thick, gray green fog that is the playing field, the dark gray fog of the stands.  I turn to my wife but she’s not there.  I’m holding her hand but she’s not there.  She says my name but she’s not there.  Then in my ear, the ear away from her, I hear the radio sing, “and it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out…at the old ball game.”

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3 Responses to My View from the Bleachers

  1. Roger James says:

    Jeff, sounds like my wife and I at a ball game in Miller Park. We asked for the “Real Time” radio and were told they did not work in Miller Park. They don’t work in Wriggly either. It is great having a “Seeing Eye” wife along for sporting events though.

  2. bethfinke says:

    So glad you finally made it out to a ballgame. We love Miller Park (our son Gus lives near Milwaukee, so we get there a lot) and I have a crush on their radio announcer, Bob Uecker. I don’t listen to him while I’m at a game, though . I find the best way to enjoy a baseball game live is to sit in front of avid fans who talk about what’s going on in the field and eavesdrop. Especially fun on a Sunday game at White Sox park –tix are cheap, not many people go, so it’s easy to move around the park until you find some fans like that and plop down in front of them.

    _____

  3. Judi Farrell-Booth says:

    You’re such a talented writer! I hung on every word. And your sense of humor catches one off-guard. Keep on keeping on, Jeff. Love reading your very short stories of life in your real world. Oh yes, you’re lucky to have her.

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