My father is a huge baseball fan, so I grew up playing baseball and watching games on television with him. But in the 1980s, the only teams we could watch consistently were the Atlanta Braves and later the Texas Rangers. The Braves were terrible in those days and the Rangers weren’t much better, so when the New York Mets won the World Series in 1986, I became a die-hard Mets fan, something that has continued to this day.
So when I saw the Mets would be playing the Rangers this season in Arlington, I knew it would be the perfect first ballgame for my son to attend. And even though I’ve also always considered myself a Rangers fan — shout out to the great Pete Incaviglia — I’d never been to Globe Life Park before the start of the Mets-Rangers series last month. So not only was the game a first for our son, it was also a first for me and my wife, who is also a baseball fan.
And as luck would have it, a friend of mine who has season tickets offered us seats so we could bring the boy to check out the action free of charge.
Because of my affection for the Mets, my son has quite a few different pieces of clothing with Mets logos, so we were all decked out in our best Mets gear to cheer on the team. But that didn’t stop every single person working for the Rangers that we talked to from being as nice as could be. We were told by about six different workers that we could get the boy a free certificate commemorating his first game at a certain souvenir booth. And once we get a frame for that certificate, we’re planning on hanging it up in his room.
We got there early and went down to the field level to join the group of autograph-seekers hovering around the Mets dugout. Unfortunately, there were way too many people already crowded around for us to get anything signed, but we did get to see some players up close and the boy was very excited to stand on the Mets dugout. If I had let him go, he would have happily walked right off into the dugout, but there was no one there to catch him, so I didn’t let him out of my grip.
Once we got to our seats, my future fireballer seemed more interested in the discarded popcorn and trash on the ground than anything happening on the field, until the pregame introductions and all the applause. As soon as he heard people clapping, he joined right in, but he seemed to be more excited about the Rangers’ introductions than the ones for the Mets, so he might not share my fandom when he’s old enough to choose his own team.
Of course, more than anything, the boy loves looking at people, so he enjoyed watching the game for a little while, but he loved when we walked around the stadium and he passed all kinds of people getting food, buying souvenirs and looking for restrooms. He was also excited to visit the awesome, and free, Rangers Hall of Fame behind right field. There weren’t many people there, so we let him run around a little while I looked at all the cool displays and plaques.
Our only concern about the game was interrupting our son’s bedtime routine since we were going to a night game, but we brought some milk in a tiny cooler and just gave it to him right before we left. He made it through the beginning of the eighth inning before he was too tired to be there anymore and I think our presence probably played a part in the Mets winning that game.
He fell asleep almost as soon as we got in the car and I was able to even move him to his crib without waking him when we got home. Everything went so well, I can’t wait to bring him to another game.
William C. Wadsack is the managing editor of the Herald Democrat and a first-time father. He never realized just how expensive children could be until the birth of his son. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WCWadsackHD.