On the way home from work last night I was listening on the radio to my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates playing the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. As the Bucs were thrashing the Redbirds, the announcer said something that totally changed the course of my 'today.'
"The Buccos play the Cards tomorrow afternoon at 12:35 pm. Still plenty of great seats available!..." My ears pricked up and my brain started rolling over the idea....
I'd been wanting to take Phoebe to a Pirates' game--it would be her first professional baseball experience. And I'd toyed with the idea of taking my dad to a game in celebration of his upcoming birthday. I'd at least check out the possibility once I got home.
At home it was all systems go. I got the tickets (Club Level seats with access to air conditioning--crucial for my dad who HATES the heat.) Got permission from all sources, including Ground Control in Whipple. Laid out my nerdy-fan-o-rama Pirates jersey and hat to wear to the game.
Phoebe was way stoked for the adventure, and so was Pop-Pop (as Phoebe calls him). Despite a latish start and bad traffic just south of the 'Burgh, we made it in time for the first pitch and even stayed through the extra innings to watch the Pirates emerge victorious, 5 to 4.
If you've never been to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, it's an amazing stadium. And I'm not just saying that as someone who suffered through 30 years of attending games at the cavernous and cookie-cutter Three Rivers Stadium with its lime-green Astroturf. PNC is a baseball fan's dream stadium.
I always take binoculars to baseball games, both to see the action up close and to watch for the birds of serendipity. Today's ballpark bird list: American crow, ring-billed gull, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, rock pigeon, mourning dove, house sparrow, chimney swift, European starling.
Our Club Level seats turned out to be a huge blessing--beer, food, AC, bathrooms only steps away. Only two things that could have made it better would have been to see my dad's name up on the Jumbotron with Happy Birthday wishes, and a nice, soft foul ball I could have caught and given to Phoebe.
Still it was a blast to play hooky from work on a hot summer afternoon and go to a baseball game. I used to do this often in summer when I lived in Baltimore and worked alone in an small office. The Orioles stunk, Memorial Stadium was scary, and the bleacher seats were only a few bucks. All I needed to hear Jon Miller or Joe Angel or Chuck Thompson say was "Still plenty of great seats left for today's game!" And I was gone.
On the way home Dad and I talked and laughed and told stories, while Phoebe relaxed in back and polished of the final Harry Potter (or is it Horrid Potty?) book.
It was wonderful to have my dad all to myself for a few hours. He's an amazing man. I think today was as much a present for me as it was for him.