If you read my blog regularly, you’re likely going to see a
lot of material about baseball. It was a love of mine from childhood, and is
now a love of my kids’. They both play, and we all watch hopefully each season
to see if this will be the year that our major league team gets a pennant or
something even better. We’re disappointed a lot, but we never stop believing in
our Pittsburgh Pirates.
That’s right. I said it. I’m a Pirates fan in New England.
I grew up in the hills of Western Pennsylvania. Our drive to Pittsburgh was the equivalent of a drive from the Upper Valley to Boston. And we would make that drive several times each year to watch the Buccos play nine innings with Bonilla, Bonds, and van Slyke (swoon) making up the Outfield of Dreams.
Andy van Slyke stole my 17-year-old's heart.
We’ve been lucky enough to see the Pirates play in their home stadium as well as in both of the NYC fields. It’s become our thing – to see them play in as many different ballparks as we can. So last year, when the Red Sox announced that their opening home stand would be against the boys from the ‘Burgh, it was a no-brainer. I checked the dates and bought the tickets as quickly as possible, knowing that being outside on an early April evening would be a challenge for me. I was on a chemo drug that made cold sensations very painful. I had to wear mittens to the grocery store so that it wouldn’t hurt to get the milk out of the dairy case. A New England early spring evening could be excruciating.
But I remembered something helpful. Several years ago, my fellow teachers at the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired took our students on a Boston adventure, including a baseball game. I was able to connect with someone in their sales office who hooked us up with great seats and listening devices for the kids to keep track of the game. He had been so generous with his time and resources. So I sent him an email and told him the shortest version of my story that I could manage. I asked if he might be able to help us at least with getting a close parking spot so that the journey from the car to the ballpark wouldn’t be agony. He was happy to hear from me, sorry to hear of my battle, and willing to help, even knowing that my family would be rooting for the “wrong” team.
And what a wonderful night we had at Fenway. My Red Sox contact not only got us a perfect parking spot, but he also escorted us onto the field for the Pirates’ batting practice and gave us seats in a booth where we could escape the cold. The Rick Porcello bobblehead was icing on the diamond-shaped cake.
No, the Pirates didn’t win that game. (Neither team even scored until the bottom of the twelfth, when we were well on our way home.) But this Pirates family won big because we saw someone with no stake in our game go above and beyond to give us a joyful day at the ball park – a day that we will remember forever.