A Beautiful Night for Baseball?

Daughter Sadie and the author huddle for warmth during Cardinals-Mets game Wednesday night..

Daughter Sadie and the author huddle for warmth during Cardinals–Mets game Wednesday night.

By Michael Kaufman

I knew I’d raised her right when she said, “Did you forget who you’re dealing with here?” Ever since I took her to her first game at Shea when she was seven, my daughter Sadie and I have endured long rain delays, interminable traffic jams, and overcrowded subway cars to be at the ballpark to see the Mets play. She will turn 25 in a few months. Not once have we left the ballpark before the last out of a game.

But Wednesday night, after watching Sadie shiver through the first  two innings as a relentless, bitter-cold wind swirled through the new ballpark I still call Shea even though it now carries the name of a rapacious financial institution, I had asked her if she wanted to leave. “We can look for a warm place to watch the game on TV,” I added when she didn’t answer. That was when she reminded me who I was dealing with.

To be honest I was shivering uncontrollably too and I was better outfitted to withstand the cold. I wore a hooded fall coat while she went hatless and donned a thin summer jacket. Not that I hadn’t been warned: I’d ordered the tickets at a discount before the season started after getting a promotional email from Travel Zoo. “I got great seats in the Caesar’s Promenade section,” I boasted to my wife Eva-Lynne. “And they only cost…”

“April 23?” she interrupted. “A night game? It’ll be freezing.”

And I thought, “What does she know about baseball? Late April evenings are perfect. “ But she was right, as usual, just as she’d been the day before the game when she urged me to take the GPS with me before a drive to Brooklyn. “I’m from New York,” I reminded her before proceeding to make so many wrong turns I lost count by the time I arrived—over an hour late—to my destination in Coney Island.

So Sadie and I were among the 22,000 announced attendees Wednesday night (another 22,000 had paid for tickets but had the good sense to stay home).  By the time it was over there were probably no more than a few thousand besides us two and the Cowbell Man.  How chilly was it?

  • So much garbage was blown onto the field that the grounds crew had to rush to pick it up before the game started and after every inning.
  • Hot chocolate outsold beer.
  • Only two other guys were in the men’s room during the seventh inning stretch.
  • Moments after I finished my hot chocolate and put the empty cup in the holder in front of my seat (did I mention we had great seats in Caesar’s Promenade?) the cup was swept away by a gust of wind.
  • The wind blew the hat off the head of Cardinals’ pitcher Michael Wacha. (Second baseman Mark Ellis made a nice play to keep it from getting through to the outfield.)
  • John Jay came up to bat in the ninth inning  sporting a red bandanna around his neck (a style that may work well for an anarchist at a street demonstration, but which looked peculiar on a big league batsman).

But you know what? We had the time of our lives, tapping our feet and hopping up and down in a vain attempt to keep warm; searching for a hat or warm sweatshirt to buy for Sadie (which she refused when she saw the sticker prices); happily watching the scoreboard as the Yankees were losing to the Red Sox, and most of all, watching the Mets defeat the team that won the whole enchilada last year.  We got to see Wacha strike out 10 batters in the four innings he pitched. But he also walked in two runs with the bases loaded in the fourth and he did not come out to pitch the fifth.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Niese pitched what the late announcer Bob Murphy would have called “a whale of game” for almost seven innings. Niese, who has always seemed on the verge of becoming an outstanding pitcher, may have finally found his niche.  We saw Lucas Duda hit a home run and we saw two batters who have been struggling (to put it mildly)—young catcher Travis d’Arnaud and veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson—deliver solid hits.  We saw sparkling plays in the field in spite of the weather, including the final play of the game when Granderson raced to the right field corner to snare a wicked Molotov cocktail off the bat of Matt Holliday.

“I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” said Sadie before we rushed to the exit, headed for the parking lot and the warmth of the car.

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.



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3 Responses to “A Beautiful Night for Baseball?”

  1. Oliver Mackson Says:

    I was at the same game, Michael. I vividly remember a ball that was hit into left field ended up getting blown back so far by the wind that the shortstop made the play. It was colder than a July night at whatever they’re calling the San Francisco ballpark these days.
    Most memorable, though, was seeing my name on the scoreboard in the 4th inning, a feat arranged by my girlfriend, Ms. Karla Schuster, for my 50th birthday.

  2. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Happy birthday, Oliver. Biz 120! And kudos to Karla for arranging the feat. I didn’t notice your name on the scoreboard or I’d have mentioned it in the post. I was probably too busy kvetching to Sadie about other truly “bush” distractions and commercial promotions that kept appearing on the screen, not to mention the unnecessary canned cheer leading exhortations blasted over the loudspeakers throughout the game.

  3. CarrieJacobson Says:

    Michael, when I was a student in Boston, we used to go to Fenway pretty much every night. It was cheap! Bleacher seats were $3.50 or so. We were there one night, one April night, for a 19-inning ballgame. And it was frigid. But sort of miraculous. I don’t even remember who we played or who won, but I do remember that Fenway wind.

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