God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.
On Sunday afternoon at Bell Field in Faribault, the faithful—some drinking beer, some not—gathered to watch the Faribault Lakers take on the Montgomery Mallards as the preacher pitched and music blared mostly catchy country lyrics. Like Billy Currington’s tune about God and beer.
I sat in the stands, taking it all in, more interested in people watching and the setting than the game. I’ve never pretended to be a fan of any sports. But I’ve wanted to attend a local Minnesota Baseball Association game this summer simply for the experience.
So when my nephew phoned and invited my husband to join him at the ballpark along with his 3-year-old son, I tagged along.
Admittedly, the high heat and humidity concerned me. To my relief, the roofed stadium provided shade and the wind breezed like a fan on low speed.
Sharing a can of icy beer with Randy, I turned my attention to the field where the Rev. Matt Lane stood at the pitcher’s mound, focused and ready to crank up a pitch.
To my left, his family and friends clustered, Lane’s preschool daughter in a blue shirt imprinted with her daddy’s surname. Lane, associate pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Faribault, played college baseball and three years in the minor league.
I tried to follow the game. But I had a difficult time tracking the fast-moving baseball and anticipating the action. I’ll never be a sports photographer. I get too distracted by nuances like the violent throw of the bat by a batter who’s just struck out or by concern about the runner lying on the field, his pride, not his body, injured.
Other details also garnered my attention such as sparrows nibbling dropped popcorn, teenage girls licking red suckers, barn swallows swooping under the roofline, the thunk of a pop-up ball slamming the metal roof, a boy roaring a toy car across bleacher seats, Elton John belting Crocodile Rock (one of my favorite 70s songs) over the ballpark loudspeaker, kids wrangling behind the Mallards’ dug-out for a foul ball knowing they’ll get a free Freezee pop for returning the ball…
I was distracted, too, by my adorable great nephew dwarfed in his Minnesota Twins shirt and red Elk River baseball cap. Landon soon joined the Lane kid crew in tossing and chasing a ball, enough busyness—along with munching popcorn and sharing Skittles—to keep him content to the bottom of the seventh inning. By then, the Lakers trailed far behind the Mallards, eventually losing 10 -2 in a regional play-off game.
As the eighth inning began, some fans left and we soon joined them. Will I attend a local baseball game again? Maybe. But next time I’d like to check out the Dundas Dukes.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling