We were given some free tickets to attend a local minor league baseball game recently. Since we enjoy going to these games anyway the benefit of the game being free...I mean like...wooohooo!
Every Friday night home game the park puts on a free a firework show after the game. So not only did we have free tickets, not only did we go on free fireworks night but we picked the kids Library night on top of that. One of the perks of signing up the kids for the library summer reading program is a night at the ballpark that includes a free gift. This was the second year the girls participated in the summer reading program. Add up all that free and you get a goo-hood (read that 'good' extended a bit) time.
When we arrived last year the library staff was directly behind the entrance gate passing out T-shirts. This year when I picked up my two free adult tickets and presented the certificate for the girls free tickets to get the girls free gift the man at will-call instructed me to go to Customer Service to pick up the kids gifts.
Upon passing through the gate I did not see the library staff I remembered from last year. I spotted a stadium staffer and asked him to point me to Customer Service. Have you ever heard the expression "if it would have been a snake it would have bitten you"? Customer Service was about three steps from where I was standing. We got in line to receive the summer reading gift. Turned out it was the same shirt from last year. My wife wanted to know if the girls really wanted the same T-shirt. KJ was quick to respond, "I didn't read those books for nothing. I want my shirt." They grow up so fast.
Before the Customer Service Representative (CSR) took the shirt sizes, a gentleman stepped up to the desk looking like he just wanted to ask a quick question. You know what I mean? We have all done it. You see the long line, but just you have a 'yes' 'no' question, you feel your question is so insignificant you should not have to wait in such a long line, but yet you really need to know the answer to your quick question, so you do what we have been trained to do, you skip in line and ask your question. To signal this, you approach the desk with your finger pointing in the air or pointing left or right and your eyebrows up as high as they will go. For some reason this body language has worked for generations. But this
He says, "Yes that will be fine put me down for it."
Apparently he and the CSR had had a previous conversation I was unaware of...they continued.
She looks at him and says, "Would you like to be the Auburn or Alabama player?"
(OK for those of you that may be from around here - in my state, when you are born, your parents have to declare your allegiance to one state school or the other. You are either a follower of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide or you are a University of Auburn Tiger.)
If you have been to a minor league game in the last 10 years you know during the middle of every inning there are games or some form of attention grabbing diversion while the teams switch sides and prepare to bat. Some times they throw T-shirts or hats or hot dogs to the crowd. Other diversions are games involving morons on the field doing things that make them look like complete idiots. Have you ever wondered how people get picked for the various games? Well let me tell you. All you have to do is sign up....it's free.
She then asked for his name. He provided it. She wrote it down. She then looks at me and says, "What size T-shirt do your kids need again?"
I told her Small and Medium.
"We are out of small." (good information to know before you ask somebody ... but no harm)
"Two medium's will be fine." I said.
Then I asked the all important question. "What do I need to do play one of the games tonight and are there any left to sign up for?"
"No and you have to be 18 years or older."
"Bless your heart sweetie." (she must have been blind as bat to think I was under 18)
"Just kidding; what's your name?"
Why do people have to be so cold hearted?
"Nice...my name is Kipp"
"And are you good to be the Alabama representative?"
"Absolutely - sunshine."
"Great, be on the third base sideline at the start of the 7th inning."
I did not sign anything. I did not have to provide any identification. Best of all it cost me nothing. I was going to
My wife: "Kipp what did you just do?"
Me: "Not really sure, but I will be on field during the 7th inning representing Alabama. AL-LA-BAM-A...ROLL TIDE BABY!"
My wife: "Oh gosh."
I will skip to the 7 inning for you...but will say we witnessed a grand slam by our home team. in the 2nd inning, quite the excitement.
After several innings of hearing "When are you going to play the game Dad?" "Is it the 7th inning Dad?" "What are you doing again Dad?" "Kipp what are you playing for?" The 7th inning finally arrived.
I left the stands with strict instructions to wave and acknowledge my girls while on the field. I was asked to verify I knew where they were sitting. I left to high fives and good luck wishes.
I met the staffer on the third base side and he provided me with a Alabama jersey. "Put this on. You know what to do?"
Staffer: "Throw as many footballs through the hole in the board as possible in 30 seconds. Find a seat in this section and I will call you when its go time."
As I sat in the seat off the third base line I started thinking about all kinds of stuff:
- The number on the jersey was 2. The most popular player at Alabama to wear number 2 was David Palmer. When he played the popular expression screamed at the TV when he would return punts and kickoffs for touchdowns was "The deuce is loose."
- Alabama's first Heisman trophy winner was Mark Ingram he wore 22.
- I could flash the Heisman trophy pose when I get out there.
- Cam Newton won the Heisman trophy last year for Auburn.
- He wore number 2.
- That makes 2 in a row for the state of Alabama.
- Does this mean I am going to make 2 good throws?
- Does this mean I am going to come in 2nd?
- How many people are here?
- What if I miss the whole board?
- Why am I doing this?
I trotted on to the field and started realizing hundreds of people may be watching my every move. Man the lights are bright. As my name was announced over the Public Address system I finally decided to look up in the stands. Oh man there are a lot of people out here. Where is my family? Did they move? Maybe theY moved closer to get a better view. I do not see them. I should flash the Heisman pose before its too late. (I flashed the Heisman Trophy pose ...left arm out straight - left leg up as if running - right arm tucked close to body as if carrying a football - add the smile) Wonder if anybody saw that? Scanned the crowd again for the girls, still no girls.
The man over the PA explains the rules again. "Guys you have 30 seconds to throw as many footballs through the hole in the board as possible. The player with the most points wins. Go!"
I threw probably 15 Nerf footballs at the hole in the board. The hole was about the size of a dinner plate. I hit just about every possible point around the hole but never once did the ball go through. I was embarrassed. Shut up... Time was up and had 0 points. I turned to see if the Auburn side was indicating any numbers up to the press box. The PA announcer informs everyone the game is a tie, neither player made any points. Somewhat relieved to know the other guy had as much difficulty as I did, the PA announcer makes another statement. "Ladies and Gentlemen in the event of a tie we go back to who won last time and give the prize to the other team. "Tonight....(people in the stands are starting to scream "Alabama!" "Auburn!"...the winner is...(more screaming)...Alabama!"
I got a little excited. I started waving my hands up as if to try to get the folks to stand up and cheer. I think I got a few kids to stand up.
Staffer: "Kipp follow me to Customer Service to collect your prize." as he motioned me to follow him. I looked up again to see if I could spot my girls...nope.
I got to Customer Service about the same time my opponent got there. The staffer pulls out a prize bag from our local coffee and tea company. "Here you go, congratulations." As I turn around with a smile and my prize my opponent says, "Congratulations, good game."
Me: "Hey. Thanks. I cannot believe I did not get one ball through the hole."
Him:" Me either it is much more difficult than it looks from the stands."
ME: "I finally just started throwing like a wild man trying to get one through."
Him: "Ha. Yeah I know what you mean."
Me: "Good game. See ya."
I get back in the stands and there are my girls sitting right where I left them.
Me: "I guess I got turned around I did not see you guys."
Wife: "Well...we had to pee. We missed the whole thing."
Wife: "I know. I am sorry. We have been waiting for the 7th inning for like two hours but Squirt couldn't hold it any longer. What did you win?"
Me: "So you guys missed the whole thing?"
Wife: "What did you win?"
Me: "I only did that to entertain the girls."
Wife: "How many did you throw through the hole?"
Me: "You missed the Heisman pose."
Wife: "How many did you throw through the hole?"
Me: "I won some coffee and tea."
Wife: "How many did you throw through the hole?"
Me: "I got to wear an Alabama jersey and everything."
Wife: "Kipp! Did you not throw any balls through the hole?"
Me: "No. It is much more difficult on the field with all those people watching and no they do not allow any practice and the 30 seconds goes by really really fast."
Wife: "How did you win?"
Me: "The players from the visting team were LSU fans and heckling me."
Wife gives me the look.
Me: "It was Alabama's turn to win the tie breaker."
Wife: "Does not sound like we missed much.....just kidding."
Me: "Have I told you lately how funny you are?"
Both: HaHa :)
I see my opponent return to his seat about 8 rows down from us. I tell my wife I will be right back. "What are you doing?"
Me: "It was a tie, I should share the prize with him. I will be right back."
I take a box of tea and a bag of coffee down to my opponent who was completely shocked I was giving him half the prize. I wished I had thought of it earlier. I told him "Had I scored a single point you would have seen none of the loot." He laughed and agreed. (Then these thoughts hit me while I was sitting beside him...the guy had shown up at Customer Service at the same time I did to claim my prize. Who does that? Was he trying to get me to split the prize with him at that time? He had not been sitting in our section prior to the game. I mean he was hard to miss. He was a man that stood out in the crowd - bright orange T-shirt and bald head. He probably followed me to my section...he reminded me of Howard) I snapped out of my trance when he spoke again.
Auburn dude: "What else was in the prize bag?"
I thought, Oh my gosh Howard has siblings.
Me: "More tea and coffee."
Auburn dude: "Cause I do not drink coffee."
Me: "How about you...(I wanted to soooo bad but I held it back)...re-gift it."
Auburn dude seemed to have sensed my state of staring as if I recognized him and my hesitation before providing the re-gifting idea. I had to throw him off the scent.
Me: "Are you Howard's brother?"
Auburn dude: "What? No. I do not have a brother."
Me: "No? OK. Well then I just thought since we tied I would share the loot. Enjoyed the game hope you have good evening." I stood up and walked off.
Auburn dude: "You are very kind. Thank you."
I returned to my free seat, unharmed, to finish watching the game with the girls.
The night was a success. We had some good family fun. Some of us more than others. The home team won. The free firework show was cool. The kids loved their free T-shirts. I was excited about my free loot for scoring 0 points in a contest where the object was to score more points than the other person in front of a few hundred people...although none of whom I knew...that ended free of any points scored. And to top it all off, we got a coupon for a free Hardee's sausage biscuit on the way out of the park. Is this a great country or what?