This summer marks the first in four years I haven’t needed to work a second job.
As a result, two wonderful things happened. First, I spent more nights and weekends with My Favorite than I have in years. Together Stacy and I spend time sitting on our back deck, reading, drinking wine, listening to music, taking our dog for long walks, catching up on some good television and simply being in each other’s company. It’s been the greatest gift I have received in years.
Second, I have also used this free time to go to a lot of minor league baseball games. This has proven to be more beneficial than I ever imagined it would. I thought it might be fun to see a few ballgames and my wallet not get gauged in the process. So, after finding myself seeing about 10 games of the Somerset Patriots and another 10 of the Trenton Thunder, I learned something about myself. I learned there is no better way to clear my mind that is more enjoyable, and more affordable, than minor league baseball.
I can tell you that years ago I used to see a therapist and she was tremendous. Through our sessions, I learned what I needed to do in order for it to be successful. I had to enter with a need, and then leave improved.
Often, I did.
I also learned going to the therapy is both expensive and brief. Costing anywhere from $75 to $150 an hour (more in the city), and lasting anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes, it seemed a bit expensive.
As it happens, I unwittingly found the answers to my concerns. I have found a new therapist! The rates are fantastic and there isn’t exactly a time limit. There are two offices I can choose from; both are huge and seat thousands at a time. They encourage yelling, screaming, cheering, dancing, singing, and even hugging a six-foot dog (Sparkee) or bird (Boomer) that spends the better part of his time inspiring others. Of course you are at the mercy of their schedule and availability, but you can make an effort to make it work on your end.
It’s the ballpark.
For about 15 bucks I can get at least two, sometimes three, hours of therapy in one shot.
I have learned for it to work – and I mean really work – you have to look beyond running the bases and scoring runs. You have to look beyond winning and losing.
For me, it begins like many good things, standing at attention for the playing of our national anthem, our baseball cap pressed to our chest.
And then …
– It’s looking over at the woman or man next to you, and you see them saluting. Veterans, you realize and a renewed appreciation for the anthem rings in your heart.
– It’s the purity of that one moment between the end of the anthem and just before the Ump cries “PLAY BALL!.” If there is one solitary moment that I love most, it may be that one.
– It’s watching a pitcher on the mound; his eyes focused below the brim of his cap.
– It’s him shaking off a sign, and then nodding.
– It’s wondering what he shook off.
– It’s the wind up and delivery, the release and follow through of the pitch.
– It’s the pop you hear from the catcher’s mitt, when a 95 MPH fastball is caught.
– It’s the cracking sound the bat makes when it connects with a 95 MPH fastball.
– It’s the home run that reached the upper deck.
– It’s watching a professional ballplayer, in some cases just a kid, mature and learn life lessons on the diamond.
– It’s that same kid dumbfounding seasoned ballplayers with his table dropping curveball.
– It’s an Umpire who puts some Oomph in his calls and bellows an animated “Youuuuuuuu’re OUT!”.
– It’s the childlike smile on the face of the 60-year-old “kid” who just caught a foul ball.
– It’s hearing him tell his wife “this is the first one I ever caught.“
– It’s when the team mascot decides YOU are perfect person to join him or her in their next set of antics.
– It’s when the woman you love most in the world shudders when you follow the mascot.
– It’s cracking open peanuts from their shell.
– It’s when you notice how brilliantly white the bases are at the beginning of a game.
– It’s the perfectly raked infield.
– It’s white balls and red stitching.
– It’s watching an outfielder track down a fly ball. Later he tells his teammate his glove is where triples go to die.
– It’s grown men staying boys, imagining they are their heroes from years ago.
– It’s rising to your feet when a ball is hit deep.
– It’s a pitcher’s best friend – a 6-4-3 double play.
– It’s that surprise breeze when it hits the sweat on your neck while basking in the sun.
– It’s the familiar rallying cries you hear from stadium to stadium.
– It’s the hand clapping and the foot stomping.
– It’s the guy two sections over trying to bring back “the wave.”
– It’s Cracker Jacks.
– It’s standing up and stretching after the top half of the 7th and singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
– It’s smiling when people sing “and I don’t care if I ever get back…” when you know it’s “never get back.”
– It’s watching the runner on first getting a good jump to steal.
– It’s the catcher throwing a frozen rope to the shortstop then putting the tag on the would-be base stealer.
– It’s watching the umpire get excited when calling him out or safe.
It’s more than I can describe. If you love this game as I do, then we both know I have only scraped the surface.
When I walk in the gates an hour before the first pitch, I hope to put my troubles behind me.
When it is time to leave, win or lose, I am always where I need to be. Relaxed. Happier. Kinder.
I entered with a need. I left with pure joy in my heart. I would venture to guess that could qualify as “improved.”
Live minor league baseball – it has become my life’s greatest form of therapy.
Follow me on Twitter at @patrickkerrison
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Coming this Friday, August 25th …
Why Sparkee – The Somerset Patriots Mascot – Would Be the Perfect Therapist.