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Take Me Out to the Museum: Baseball Family Day @ SAAM
June 4, 2008


The ballparks in my old stomping ground of New York are shutting their doors. The newspapers reported the impending closing of Yankee and Shea Stadiums, in the Bronx and Queens, respectively. My dad, who lived in Queens after I left for college, would meet me at Shea Stadium and we'd watch a Mets game together. I'd arrive by the #7 train that left Manhattan for Queens. He was usually there first, having taken the #7 as well, but from the opposite direction. It was a time for father and son to get together, enjoy each other’s company, yet not feel as if each one of us had to hold up our end of the conversation. It was enough to be with one another, watch the Mets, and take in the sights and the sounds of baseball in New York. And now, those times are gone, my dad's gone, and soon the baseball stadiums will be a memory, too. Ah, what I wouldn't give to have some extra innings with my dad...

Baseball. It's not just in our blood: it's in our literature and in our artwork as well. Somehow the sport has come to represent an ideal time in our collective history and in our individual lives. Throw in a little apple pie, a touch of Norman Rockwell, and voilà...you get the idea.

This Saturday SAAM and the neighboring National Portrait Gallery are teaming up to present Baseball Family Day. Players from the Washington Nationals will be on hand for the first part of the program (11:30 to 1:30) to read from baseball-themed books. Afterward, kids can have their pictures taken with the players, then create their own baseball cards and photo frames. The event continues until 3:00 and will also include a tour of baseball-related art in the galleries. (A self-guided tour will also be available in the form of a brochure.)

That, as they say, is the game plan. If you're like me you'll enjoy the event for what it is, as well as for what it might mean to you a little further down the road.


Posted by Howard on June 4, 2008 in Post It


Comments

What an awesome opportunity for kids to meet and take pictures with some of the players from the Washington Nationals. I will be at SAAM in a couple of weeks and would love to get a copy of the brochure for the self-guided baseball related art tour. My father and I go to a lot of baseball games together, so I understand that special bond that you and your father shared. Now I am fortunate enough to be able to share that bond with my son.

I am sadden that both parks will be closed, but at the same time happy they will build new ones. Baseball is a great sport and loved by many. GO METS!!!!

I love the photograph with the baseball players. My two sons love baseball and I share the photo with them. They would love the opportunity to meet pro players. Of course they both are Cardinal fans.

Nice idea to have the Baseball Family Day, it will help the kids to learn more of the sport. Good job =)

Howard, your memories of games with your father in New York helped coax my own out the depths of a long-ago past.

My father is now gone too, as he would be a few years after my afternoon at the ballpark, and the great the players of the Philadelphia Phillies of the the late '60s or early '70s, such as pitcher Steve Carlton or the home run hitter I only remember by his nickname "The Bull" live on only in the memories of a distracted generation of now middle-aged parents and professionals.

You helped me remember a Saturday afternoon game designated as "bat day," where with a 50 cent seat in Veteran's Station bleachers my father bought my brother and I tickets not just to a thrilling day of summer baseball, but a free regulation bat. More important was the rare three-hour stretch in the company of my father, seemingly dislodged from his usual hardened gloom. My brother, (whose company I would have preferred to have foregone) was, for the duration of the game, distracted from finding ways to torment me. I was happy to be at a live game rather than listening to the coverage on my transistor radio and luxuriating to to be with my father who, against all odds, almost seemed happy.

I reveled in watching the plays I could barely see from the left field bleachers, which were almost entirely our own. I felt suspended in time, propped up by nine innings with the father I loved, but whose remoteness told me to keep my distance. Like you, Howard, I don't remember conversations with my father during the game, nor feeling like there was a space that needed filling. When the game was over I followed my father in silence out into the to the parking lot and our car, flipping my bat from end to end in my right hand, knowing that I was not yet home.

Thank you for a beautiful piece and for helping to coax my memory.

Thank you all for responding to this blog. I'm hoping that some of you were able to attend the event. Victoria, at first I thought my post was too close to home. In writing for the blog, I want to relate a personal story yet I don't want to veer too far off into my own family history. Your comment made me feel that I was right on target with this post. Thank you for sharing your family memory with us. Your post reads like a short, short story. (hmmm...that gives me an idea). I felt I was with you at the stadium and in the slow walk to the car. Glad that our stories could cross the years and meet up here on Eye Level. Thanks again.

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