Making Baseball Better

In my fifth grade memory book, I wrote that in twenty years I would be as good at basketball as Joe Smith and as good at baseball as Cal Ripken Jr.

Well I guess I still have 4 years…

I was a baseball nut when I was a kid.  My next door neighbors had season tickets to the Orioles games and we would go to a few games every season.  I had a strict uniform for all games.  An Orioles jersey (about 18 times too big), a baseball glove (in case a foul ball came our way), and a book about Cal Ripken, Jr (for autographs).  And nearly every game I would either spill Hawiian punch or ketchup on my white jersey.  My mother is a laundry genius.

I used to make my family stay after as many games as I could get them to agree to and we would wait for the players to leave so I could hopefully get an autograph.  I wanted Cal’s or Brady Anderson’s, but the only signature I ever got was from Doug Jones.  Remember him?  I don’t really either.  I just remember being so disappointed that I got Doug Jones’ autograph.  Wasn’t he the worst closer ever or something?

I actually met Cal Ripken, Jr once.  It was Mother’s Day and players were at all of the gates welcoming Mothers to the game with carnations.  We just happened to go to the main gate that day and there he was, all dressed for the game and ready to go.  I approached him like I imagine I’d approach a god of some kind.  Everything else went blurry.  I forgot how to talk.  He was SO tall!  He saw the Cal Ripken book in my hand and made a joke about me reading during the game.  I didn’t even think to hand it over to him, and then he turned to my little sister Nicki.

“And how old are you?  4?” (or something like that, I was still in lala land)

Um, Nicki was not 4, she was 6.  And she was mad at Cal Ripken for the rest of the night because he dared to think she was 4 years old!  I, however, was mad at myself for the rest of the night.  All of those times waiting out front after the games and my autograph opportunity was pretty much handed to me – and I still had a blank book?  Really?!?

Anyway.  A lot has changed since then.  I have a lot of fantastic Orioles memories and I still consider myself a fan, but they are just not fun to watch anymore.  And because life gets really busy after 5th grade, I’ve started paying attention to baseball less and less.

But last Friday, with Nicki in town, we wanted to do something very L.A.  I looked through all of my touristy books and did a few Google searches, but we were kind of hungover and didn’t really want to exert a lot of energy into anything.

And then I thought of the Dodgers.  Another team that’s really not doing so hot right now, therefore tickets are easy to come by.  We went online for tickets and then headed downtown to check this stadium out.

Best idea ever.

Turns out, 45 years ago this weekend was the Beatles 2nd to last show ever, and it just happened to be at Dodger field.  The entire night was Beatles themed.  And oh, have you met my family?  We are Beatle-maniacs.  We play Beatles RockBand together and involve Beatles music in our weddings and know every word to every song.  We converted Brad when I started dating him, and now he’s come over to the dark side.  Him and a few friends back in Ithaca called themselves “The Yokos” and had listening nights for the re-mastered albums when they came out.  Oh yea, he’s one of us now.

So everything was Beatles all night long.  The font all around the stadium was Beatles font.  The organist played Beatles songs throughout the game.  There were videos of the concert and interviews from people who were there.  Did you know the Hell’s Angels rescued the Beatles that night from the swarms of fans?  Thanks, Dodger Stadium, for your Beatles trivia.

We realized early on that we hadn’t heard of a single player on either team, but the Beatles made it all better.  We ate a Dodger dog and did all the baseball game stuff you have to do (even got frozen yogurt in a Dodger helmet).  A foul ball even came within a few rows of us.  But we were mostly just waiting for the little Beatles moments.  And we were mostly waiting for the after-game.

Beatles Fireworks.

So the Dodgers won.  It was a great and exciting 7th inning, blah, blah, blah…  But once the game ended, the real show began.  And what’s even better than Beatles fireworks?  How about Dodger stadium letting everyone and anyone onto the outfield to sit and watch the show??  Seriously.  Please come down to trample and sit on our perfectly manicured grass.

Don’t mind if I do.

It was the coolest thing I’ve done in L.A. so far.  We sat on the left field grass in the darkened stadium and watched fireworks to a Beatles playlist.  Little kids, grandparents, and every age in between knew all the words and turned it into a huge sing-a-long.  My mom did make the point later that they should have included the song “Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds”, but other than that obvious omission, it was perfection.

Here’s the finale to “All You Need Is Love”.  You know, if your nostalgic for the 4th of July or something…

Baseball is still great, but the Beatles make everything better.

Oh, and mom?  I spilled frozen yogurt on my white shirt.  Had to keep the tradition alive…

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