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Griffith: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie... Memories

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I believe I was 9 or 10 years old when I attended my first baseball game. It was a night game, Chicago White Sox vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Milwaukee was still an American League team) at Comiskey Park.

While I don't remember every pitch, or who batted first, many memories remain from that night. A friend of my parents got us tickets. The dads were taking us boys. I vividly remember walking, for what seemed like forever, through a maze of scary inner-city streets. We passed panhandlers and homeless people with burning garbage barrels as we trekked closer to the stadium. I was terrified walking to the stadium. This was a scene I had never experienced before. It seemed like life here revolved around misery, pain, and crime.

Maybe over time my memory has lied to me, but when I think about the walk to the stadium that night I imagine walking through what seemed like a large sewer system similar to the one in the television cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I couldn't believe that a baseball team played in the middle of all this. The people around the stadium were far different than the people I had been exposed to thus far in my life. This was my first impression of the city of Chicago, and possibly why I loathe the city today.

The seats weren't great. In fact, they may have been the worst seats in the stadium. We sat so high in the terrace that I was confident I could have touched a plane that flew overhead. I was scared to walk to or from the seats and can recall grasping the railing for dear life so I didn't fall the million miles to the field. To me, all the players looked about the same size as my micro machine cars at home.

Contrary to how this story has started, there were some good memories of this game, as well. I got to watch one of the last games of the great Carlton Fisk. I got to watch one of the first games of The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. Oh, and on the other side of the diamond I got to see Paul Molitor and John Jaha. I distinctly remember heckling "JAAAA HAAA, JAAA HAAA," every time he came to bat. More important than the game, or the players, or who won or lost (I believe Milwaukee won 3-2), it was time without Mom or my sister that was spent between my Dad and me (and a couple of other guys). To this day it is one of my favorite childhood memories, no matter how many of them I have fabricated in my mind over the years.

Twenty-plus years later, and now I'm the dad. My oldest son has been to a few games with his old man, but is now entering his teen-age years, which means he wants to be different. He no longer likes my team or baseball at all and has no desire to go to games with me. Fortunately, my 4-year-old daughter idolizes her father and wants to be exactly like me. She watches games with me on television and even has a favorite player, Yadier Molina. She will turn 5 on May 27, and has been begging me to take her to a Cardinals game since she was 2 or 3 years old.

I decided this season would finally be the year that I could take her to a game and not have to worry about missing an inning because we "have to use the potty" every five minutes, or we were "bored" and "want to go home."

So, when tickets went on presale, I bought Gabby and myself tickets to the game on Memorial Day, May 26 against the New York Yankees. She was so happy when I told her we were finally going to a game, especially with it being the day before her birthday. I am too. So much so that I had to spoil my princess with a pink Cardinals jersey... And a pink Cardinals purse that she happened to find before I could close the webpage.

I hope Gabby will remember that she got to see Derek Jeter play in his final season; that she got to welcome Carlos Beltran back to St. Louis; that she watched Adam Wainwright pitch or Matt Holliday hit one deep. I hope she will remember the sights and sounds of the stadium and the nachos from El Birdos Café. I hope she will remember that Daddy sprung for luxury box seats for her first game.

Most of all, I hope she always remembers that first time she and Daddy shared a special day, just the two of us, in our favorite baseball town with our favorite baseball team. I pray that when she is my age, she looks back on this day and remembers everything, even if her memories are altered through time and my constant stories of the day.

It doesn't matter who wins or loses a baseball game. What baseball is about are the memories made. The memories that last a lifetime. The cycle that repeats itself when the child becomes the parent, making those same memories all over again.

This season promises to be a good one for Cardinals fans, but even if we win the World Series my greatest memory from the 2014 season will be made on May 26 with my daughter by my side, in her overpriced, but ridiculously adorable, pink Cardinals jersey and matching purse.

About the Author
Steve spends his time here at The Peorian analyzing data and networking to develop solutions to bridge the gap between…no wait, that’s what he does as a career. He’s here at The Peorian to write about other things. And in order to facilitate these efforts, we have banned him from using any forms of the words “data”, “engineering” and “antidisestablishmentarianism”. The latter should be for obvious reasons. I mean, really, how could anyone be FOR the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in 19th-century Britain?