I am about to embark on an historic journey….what am I thinking? I almost forgot to bring extra plutonium!
Actually, I won’t need plutonium where I am going, which isn’t Hill Valley, 1955, but rather Cleveland, Ohio. Earlier this year I applied on Indians.com to receive an invitation to the Tribe Social Deck of Progressive Field, the home of the Cleveland Indians baseball team. I never figured that I would actually be the recipient of such an invitation, and had actually mostly forgotten about it when, a few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I would like to attend the August 31st game and watch the Indians host division rivals the Chicago White Sox. With no hesitation, after asking my wife’s permission, I said yes.
As anyone who knows me can tell you, I am a die- hard Indians fan and a life-long lover of baseball. I watch every game that I can, and shout at the TV when the Indians play like Little Leaguers, and leap for joy when they manage to do the impossible. I watched 13 years ago when they almost won the World Series against the Florida Marlins, and I watched 15 years ago when they lost the World Series to the Atlanta Braves. My heart has been broken many times, but I cannot help but cheer for them.
Despite my love of the game, and my passion to watch the Indians, I have only attended one game at their ballpark, at the time, Jacob’s Field. It was the inaugural season for the new stadium, the 1994 season which will always be remembered as the year there was no World Series because of a player’s strike. I don’t remember much about the experience: I was only 7 at the time, but I do remember going with my mother, my uncle (who lives near Cleveland and who we were visiting at the time) and a brother of mine (though I am unsure which). I remember drinking a Coke out of a large cup, and knowing that below me in right field was the legend Kirby Puckett. Because of that detail I know the Indians were hosting the Minnesota Twins. It must have been early July, and it was a day game. I think.
Now I am 23, and can’t wait to hit the road to once again see the Indians play in their coliseum. Two of the players that were on that field 16 years ago, somewhat amazingly, will be again. Sandy Alomar, Jr was the Indians catcher that day, and Omar Vizquel was their shortstop. On Tuesday, the day I will be in the park, Alomar will be standing behind first base, coaching for the Indians, and Vizquel might be at third base for the White Sox (he only plays occasionally). This time I will be in left field, and have a much better grasp on what is happening. There is an electric feeling in my heart, an excitement that builds.
I know that right now the Indians hold the dubious honor of being the 3rd worst team in the American League, and that they will likely to lose, if they don’t win. I know that the stands around me will probably be mostly empty in a city that is weary of losing seasons and injuries to star players, but for me, I will be channeling the spirit of Ray Kinsella, who built a left field in a corn field, and watched Shoeless Joe when no one else cared, or thought him a fool. The breath of the game will catch me up, and I will be lost in baseball reverie. (It seems like fate, too, that Shoeless played for both the Indians and the White Sox, and was the ghost in the cornfield and that the White Sox will be in town.)
Or, somewhat less melodramatically, I will enjoy a night out at the ole ballpark, watching a team and a game that I love.