To infinity (sort of ) and beyond -- the lengths we'll go to for our children
Big deal, you say. Kids go to baseball games all the time. Well, El Grande loves baseball, and he's a wee bit different from most kids because he can't see the game.
Husband got tickets through a professional contact. They had never been to Wrigley Field and had only a slight working knowledge of the city of Chicago, so he had to do some advance work to figure out a route, parking, and travel time. He printed a tentative itinerary in Braille for El Grande and talked him through what to expect. That done, they packed their bags and El Grande's white cane and hit the road.
El Grande has always loved pro football (he's my child, after all) and he developed an interest in baseball several summers ago when he got a chance to learn to play. Playing in the Challenger League helped him discover a new understanding of the game. He learned what it feels like to swing a bat and throw a ball. He discovered the shape of the field (how is it really like a diamond?) and what it means to run the bases. Armed with that knowledge, he became a true-blue baseball aficionado.
He checks out the standings and highlights by way of sports radio and ESPN. He'll "watch" games on television and ask us for any details we see that the announcers don't cover, like exactly where the ball goes for a home run. We try to get to a few minor league games and at least a couple of major league games a season, usually Milwaukee Brewers.
But why, some might ask, why would a parent take a full weekend, fill the car with gas at $3.10 a gallon, travel four hours from home, fight big city traffic, sit outside for hours in near-90 degree heat, spend all this time and money -- for a child who can't see the game?
Folks, it's worth it. It's a life experience. He may not see the details, but he hears the crowd, the announcer, the true crack of the bat, the organ music. He smells the peanuts, popcorn, and hot dogs. He feels the excitement -- and Cubs fans are famous for generating excitement! And this time (thanks a million, Joe!) he "caught" a ball that a loyal Cubs fan gave him.
Wow. Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd... because sighted or blind, America's favorite pastime is meant to be taken in live.
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