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The Press Box For July 29

By Staff | Jul 29, 2020

I don’t know about you, but when I watch a baseball game or any other sporting event for that matter, I like to see the real thing. Not necessarily in person, but the real thing. You know like kids in the stands with their parents, where they’re all decked out in their team apparrel. Ushers roaming around helping people find their seats. Vendors working their way through the crowd selling Ice cold beer, lemonade, hot dogs and popcorn.

I like the whole experience, even when I’m watching on TV.

I like it when a line drive foul ball down the baseline nearly takes someones head off, but at the last second a fan reaches out and grabs it bare handed, or a guy in the stands in centerfield makes a catch on that home run ball, a catch the Pro’s would be proud of.

I like the atmosphere, it’s just as much a part of the game as the ball game itself. The tailgating in the parking lots, or just setting in the TV room with a cold one and a large pizza, it’s all part of the experience. One of the best is fighting the crowd to get into the stadium, the rush to be first through the door, the pushing and shoving, while spilling beer and nobody cares.

Even greater is the last minute thought about going, like the day before when someone offers you tickets or you find out there are still seats available so you surprise the family with a day out at the ball park. Packing up the car and heading to the stadium, the thrill of driving into the big city, not knowing what could happen, those are some things that make life as a sports fan worthwhile.

Even when you’ve planned the outing for months and the big day finally arrives, and you’re just filled with excitement. The sky is clear and it’s the perfect day to spend at the park. What on earth could be better?

Yes, I think most all of us are like that, we became use to it. Planning and preparing for fun trips, not always Pro ball games, but the anticipation of what’s next. Maybe a trip to the lake, a camping trip, an extended vacation across country, or just a weekend of relaxing in the mountains.

That is how life has been for me for the past 40 years or more. Always working and planning ahead. Most of my life I have followed sports through each season. I can tell you to this day who many of the best sports figures have been from the local high schools to college and professionals. Some of you are way better at it than I am, but as you get older your memory isn’t quite as sharp. However, one I’ll never forget is the great Pittsburgh and Cincinnati rivalry of the mid-70’s.

I had a 1974 Dodge Dart slant six 4-door, that pecked and sounded like a time bomb. I bought it from Dan’s used cars between Paden City and New Martinsville and despite the engine noise that all the 225 slant six motors had, it ran like a top.

The Pirates and Reds were in a heated battle and had a three game weekend series at Riverfront Stadium. We packed up the trunk with a few clothes and a cooler of drinks and headed down on Friday for the three day event.

Not knowing we would have trouble finding a place to stay, while also having to buy tickets off the street scalpers to get in.

It was a sold out affair all three days including Sunday. The old stadiumn was alive with crowds in excess of 50,000 each game. I totally enjoyed the weekend, my wife not so much, although she still talks about sleeping two nights in the back seat of that Dodge Dart. We ate breakfast each morning at Shoney’s and washed up in their restrooms.

Friday nights game was a masterful display off baseball. The Reds won 12-11 in ten innings. Playing for the Reds were players like Johhny Bench, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey, George Foster, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. The Pirates countered with the likes of Al Oliver, Dave Parker, Manny Sanguillen, Richie Zisk and Kent Tekulve. These were some of the best in baseball history, and were worth every dime spent to watch in person. The Pirates dropped game one, but came back to take the next two on Saturday and Sunday, sending me home a happy camper.

I tried to watch a game on TV the other night, however it only lasted about 15 minutes and I’d had enough. No kids in the stands, fake crowds, poor announcing, no incentive to set an stare at a bunch of players who feel intitled, and show a complete disrespect for the fan base and the country they live in.

I am afraid we have lost a way of life we have grown to enjoy so much.

No more tailgating, no more long weekend trips to follow our favorite teams. The old blues song “The thrill is gone” is playing over and over in my head. We are living in a completely different world than this time last year. All our plans and futures have either changed or are put on hold.

I want to attend high school and college ball games and enjoy not only the game, but the crowd as well. To see old friends and enjoy the commarade, to watch as the local high school kids shine on their new fields

. To see the joy in the eyes of parents and fans when the home team wins. I want to witness are best athletes make all-state and bring home the banners. I want to watch our coaches as they work their tails off to get the players in tip-top shape. I want those things as much as anyone.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed, let’s hope and more importantly let’s pray that life gets back to normal. I don’t want to be stuck in a bubble around a glass tube watching players on a screen, in what seems like a video game. That’s just not sports to me!

What is killing me the most is the uncertainty of what’s coming next. Will the virus continue for another year or more? Will there be a real vaccine that kills it off? Can school actualy start back safely? Will the kids get to enjoy life once again with their friends? Is going out to eat a soon to be thing of the past? Will we ever get to fill WVU stands to capacity? I keep hearing over and over “We can and will beat this thing” and yes I believe it will eventually be a memory, but what I truely believe is we as people in this world can only get rid of it when we change our way of living and let God be in charge.

The old song sung best by the Righteous Brothers “He” says it best.

He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea;

He alone decides who writes a symphony;

He lights every star that makes the darkness bright;

He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night;

He still finds the time to hear a child’s first prayer;

Saint or sinner calls and always finds him there

Though it makes him sad to see the way we live

He’ll always say, “I forgive.”

He can grant a wish or make a dream come true;

He can paint the clouds and turn to gray the blue;

He alone is there to find a rainbow’s end;

He alone can see what lies beyond the bend;

He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold;

He knows every lie that you and I have told

Though it makes him sad to see the way we live

He’ll always say, “I forgive.”