I’d finally gotten settled into my Opening Day seat, so I turned to say hello to Bobby to my left. We cross paths every few years during Opening Week, when it’s our turn in each of our ticket groups to get one of these prized games.
“Ahhhh, at last!” I sighed contentedly.
“Oh yeah!” Bobby said. “How long have you been waiting for this day?”
“Let’s see, when was the end of the season last year?” I asked. “I’d say about 3 weeks after that.”
And that’s how it was all day, reconnecting with my comfort zone. I woke up Tuesday morning, very excited that I’d be returning to my second home, AT&T Park, where I spend so much time during Baseball Season. I had lots of people to see and things to do, with a special bonus waiting for me: one of my favorite cousins was the police officer at my gate. Before going in, I made a quick visit to the family bricks that honor those who taught my generation about the game, and then got a big hug from a handsome cop. A great way to start the day!
Next there was the always upbeat Carmel, who runs the one-flight-up elevator I take when my knees or back can’t make it up the long flight of stairs. With a huge hug, smile, and “Glad you’re back!!” it was starting to feel like home again.
The elevator lets passengers out in the plaza with the aroma of garlic fries and hand carved sandwiches, where the Field of Dreams quote dominates the wall. I was due to meet some friends there at noon for our annual reading of the quote, but with some time to spare, I headed to my seat to drop off my gear.
There were many familiar faces that I passed – at the sausage stand, the souvenir shop, and the Carvery. But I was looking for Susan, who has been the usher in my section forever. When I arrived, Susan was there with a smile and a hug. I knew it would be a good day in section 109 — Susan takes great care of the ticket holders and monitors people going to their seats while there’s a batter in the box. After running to get snacks during games, I often stop at the top of the stairs and chat while waiting for the inning to be over. It’s hard to make the 15 row trek back down to my seats without disturbing other fans.
After visiting my seats, I checked out the new bathroom configuration and took note of the food stands nearby: the Doggie Diner cart with the grilled Giant Dogs and sheboygen brattwurst was still there and doing a good business; the popcorn stand at the entrance to my section smelled tempting, as always; and the Carvery was still just across the way. There was more open space behind the rows of seats so that fans can stand and watch the game from a different vantage point. And there was a souvenir stand close enough that I could run up between innings to get an emergency pair of new earrings. Things were starting to feel very comfortable.
But the clock was ticking, and I had an important appointment. I hurried back to the plaza, shared hugs with more familiar faces, and stood with the crowd waiting for the reading of the Field of Dreams quote that is painted on the wall. Jane, who sits next to me with her husband during games, shouted out, “Attention! It’s time for our annual reading of the Field of Dreams quote to get us in the right frame of mind for the season. Is everyone ready?” With a rousing “YES!” we began.
The reading was spirited and full of emotion. The quote explains why we’re baseball fans and keep coming back year after year, and what the game means to us. It’s about family, heroes, magic and memories.
Baseball is back, and we’re home once again.