Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up watching the Chicago Cubs or that I am from a generation when day baseball was something more than a novelty kept alive to facilitate cross-country flights. No matter what the reason, there is something special about skipping out of the office on a sunny summer day to go to the ballpark for a game.
With the bright blue cloudless sky overhead I can even forget that my team is 12 games under .500 and mired in a slump that has lasted the better parts of three season. It just doesn’t seem to matter, I am still on my way to a ballgame.
Each season I scan through the Diamondbacks schedule to look for afternoon home games at Chase Field. This season we are treated to two. The first happens today against the Atlanta Braves. The second occurs September 1 with the San Diego Padres. July 5 also has a day game but I don’t count holiday games just because it’s too much like a weekend to warrant special designation.
For the past couple of years the Diamondbacks have given back to the community by giving discounted game tickets to boys and girls clubs throughout the valley for these afternoon mid-week games. I applaud this for a couple of reasons. First it fills the otherwise empty seats that occur with a game during working hours. Second, it gives kids an opportunity to see a Major League Baseball game. Any time you can bring a kid to the ballpark is a good day.
Entering the stadium, the kids are lined up and accounted for. Each club seems to have matching summer camp shirts making it easy to keep a particular group together and giving the stands a rainbow effect.
As is always the case when you get a large group of kids together, they get excited. Almost from the first pitch they begin cheering and continue until the final out is recorded. These cheers are a little different than a normal game. First off, their voices are a higher pitch and a lot more volume. By the seventh inning stretch it feels like you are in the middle of an amusement park.
It didn’t really matter whether the Diamondbacks won or lost the game (for the record they lost again with the bullpen giving up four runs in the ninth inning), what mattered was that among all of these young fans there might be future Diamondbacks fans who will follow this team religiously because of the experience they had today.