On March 31, 1998 the Arizona Diamondbacks welcomed their fans to the first Opening Day of Major League Baseball in Arizona. There was a sell out crowd who had tickets to that historic game and there were countless others without tickets who came down to Bank One Ballpark to soak in the atmosphere of that first game. Trina and I had season tickets to the 1998 Diamondbacks and we were downtown early so that we didn’t miss a moment of the festivities.
As the gates opened I felt like one of the children who had a golden ticket granting them entrance into Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. This though was so much more important than chocolate, it was baseball. As we walked through the turnstile we were greeted by smiling Diamondbacks employees who welcomed up to the game and gave each of us a seat cushion. The cushions were made of purple vinyl with teal piping and had the opening day logo screened across the seat.
We were excited to receive this gift since neither of us had thought about needing a seat cushion. For the next 20 games that seat cushion would be my constant companion attending every game held at Bank One Ballpark. One of the things about baseball is that it gives you time to think. And when you are watching an expansion franchise struggle to try and become a team it seems like you have extra time to ponder life.
My focus during that first quarter of the season was on that seat cushion. It was ok for a casual fan but for someone who attends every game and keeps score, I had “special needs” that the Opening Day seat cushion just could not seem to handle. So while the games would drag as the Diamondbacks were on their way to lose a heartbreaking game, Trina and I would sit and talk about seat cushions and how we would change them to be better.
During an extended Diamondbacks road trip, our family made a trip to Idaho to visit our parents. It is a 14 hour drive which again gave us time to talk and that talk seemed to revolve around baseball and our seat cushions. By the time we reached our destination I had completed a design that I thought was perfect. Trina and I went to several places and found the materials to make my design a reality.
Trina and my mother spent their vacation sewing as we put two seat cushions together. They were awesome. The cushions were made of purple and teal Cordura and included special pockets for water bottles, scorebooks, pencils, and treats. They had carrying handles, Velcro, zippers, and shoulder straps. The design came out even better than I had anticipated. When we got home I carefully tucked the Opening Day seat cushion away never to be used again.
For the next 62 games I had my custom seat cushion. They were incredible and still are. They have gone through the struggles of expansion and saw the Diamondbacks reach the play-offs in just their second season. They accompanied us to every home game of the World Series and watched as the Diamondbacks were crowned champions. They suffered through injury ridden seasons and were a source of comfort during a season of 111 losses. They watched fan favorites and future Hall of Fame players come and go. And while the foam inserts are starting to slightly wear, the rest of the seat cushion looks as good as the day it was made.
But in one brief moment, these seat cushions went from being a constant companion to one destined to join the inaugural seat cushion. When the Arizona Diamondbacks changed their team colors on November 8, I knew the era of the purple and teal seat cushion had come to an end. I thought I was taking it hard but my emotions were nothing compared to those exhibited by Trina. I tried to comfort her by saying how much I loved purple and teal too. She wasn’t crying at the changing of the colors, she was crying because she knew I was going to request new seat cushions in Sedona Red and Black and she wasn’t sure she could handle my design criteria again. Now with the home opener for the 2007 Diamondbacks only 2 weeks away, it was time to get started.
We got the seat cushions out and began analyzing their design and taking measurements. From there we started making a list of materials we would need to start this project. The list became longer and longer as features of the cushions was uncovered. Before I knew it the list of materials had grown beyond a single page. It was taking on a life of its own. There was the seat cushion material, zippers, Velcro, buckles, hooks, loops, elastic, thread and other assorted notions.
I had no idea what kind of store to even look at for many of these items. But armed with the list and the Phoenix area yellow pages I started off to find the raw materials. As I would return home with odds and ends I would be given an updated list from which to work with that included new challenges and obscure items. I was quickly coming to the realization that I was being sent on a wild goose chase in hopes that I would become frustrated to the point of suggesting that perhaps new seat cushions were not such a great idea after all.
Trina had underestimated my resolve on this though. I just couldn’t show up to Opening Day sporting a Sedona Red jersey while sitting on purple and teal seat cushions. Real fans just didn’t do that. I had to let Trina know how important these seat cushions were and that they were about to become a high priority in everyone’s life. That was probably the biggest mistake that I could have made. Once Trina realized that when it came to seat cushions time and money didn’t appear to be an obstacle she immediately turned that to her advantage.
The list suddenly got a lot larger and a lot more expensive. I started seeing things such as top-of-the-line Fiskars scissors, craft cutting boards, and other items that I seemed to remember from her Christmas list last December. The coup de grâce though was when she added a brand new surger to the list. In the name of seat cushions she was getting a new sewing machine. When I questioned that item I was asked how important it was to me that the edges of the seams not fray.
The thoughts of sitting on a seat cushion with threads wrapping around me like the loops of Wonder Woman’s golden lasso wasn’t something I was prepared for so needless to say, Trina is getting a new machine. When this project started I thought to myself, “how expensive could a couple of Sedona Red and Black seat cushions be?” Well based on my rough figures the raw materials alone are about the same price as a season ticket in the upper deck at Chase Field. My butt better appreciate the sacrifice my wallet made for its comfort.