Giants pitcher, Jonathan Sanchez, threw a no-hitter tonight. That, however, is historically insignificant compared to a night for which I’ve been waiting nearly four years – K-Man’s first game. Taking the kid to his first baseball game is one of those family/father-son rights of passage that I’ve been looking forward to since the line on the stick was blue.
While some kids go to games as soon as they fit into a Baby Bjorn, we waited a few years because 1) K-Man hates loud noises 2) he’s not the biggest fan of crowds and 3) changing a diaper at a baseball game? No thank you. (Those bathrooms are already gross enough.) Come to think of it, #3 is probably the biggest reason we’ve stayed away. It’s not like there were any crowds or much noise at Giants games the last few years.
Because K-Man doesn’t really understand the game, I figured he might last an inning or two at the most. (I even told the parking attendant that we’d be back as early as the third inning.) But, we were going to give this a go. We left the car and started walking toward Park. (I should note that K-Man was disappointed that we asked him to leave his Spider-Man mask in the car.)
We stopped outside the stadium to get a hat for K-Man (thanks to our friend, Jim Sweeney, for K-Man’s sweet new lid) and pick up our tickets at Will Call (thanks to friend, Dave Marcus, for that hook-up). As soon as we walked through the gates, K-Man immediately got what being at the stadium is all about, “Daddy, I want a hot dog and pizza and ice cream and chips and hot chocolate.” He later added that he wanted hummus and crackers, too – asking for perhaps the only food choice not served at AT&T Park.
With hot dog, apple juice, stickers and something called a “Cha Cha Bowl” in hand, we made our way up to our seats, which were in the “View Level” deck directly behind home plate. (The “View Level” named for the absolutely epic views of the San Francisco Bay – perfect for G who can admire the view and ignore the baseball!) From the first pitch – K-Man loved the experience. He took his hat off for the National Anthem. He danced to the music. He clapped when the crowd clapped. He tried to whistle. He even picked out his favorite player. We’ll have to overlook the fact that said favorite player is the Giants mascot, Lou Seal. (Though, Pablo Sandoval is a close second, but that’s only because his nickname is “Kung Fu Panda.”)
He noticed everything around him from the vendors to the pink hats the little girls were wearing. In a nod to his old fire-fighter obsession, he even pointed out the ambulance beyond the left field wall. “I like baseball,” he told us more than once. K-Man was so engrossed that when the Giants finished batting in the bottom of the third, he was still in his seat. Captivated.
Before the first pitch was thrown in the top of the fourth, however, “Daddy, I want to go home. It’s too loud.” Completely unaware of the potential for history on this night, the three of us packed up our stuff and headed for the exit.
But, we didn’t make it out just yet, “Daddy, can we have ice cream, please?” Sure, kid, but not because I want some, too. Of course not. So, after a stop for a cup of mint & chip (which K-Man affectionately calls “mint sh-t” – nice) and a stop in the Giants Team Store (K-Man now has batting gloves to match his new hat) – we walked back to the car.
Like my dad did when I was kid and we left the game early (to beat the traffic out of Chavez Ravine/Dodger Stadium), we listened to the game on the car radio. When we left the stadium, the Giants were up 4-0. When we got to the car, they were ahead 7-0 (somewhat given away by the loud roar we heard from outside the stadium). It wasn’t until we got home, however, that we realized that Jonathan Sanchez was on the verge of pitching a no-hitter.
I immediately put the game on to watch the final two innings and wondered if the first-ever game K-Man had seen (at least part of) would be a no-hitter. How cool would that be? He’s got a ticket and a “My First Game” certificate from the Giants to prove he was there. (Perhaps by the time he’s in his teens, the tale will grow and he’ll have stayed the whole game. “My dad wanted to leave early, but I forced him to stay. I just knew something great was happening.”)
K-Man was fast asleep when Jonathan Sanchez threw a big curveball to strike out the final Padres batter. In a way, I wish that he could have been up to watch it. But, he wouldn’t have understood anyway. The concept of a no-hitter wouldn’t have any effect on him. To him, a no-hitter is what he’s supposed to be when he’s playing with his friends.
As the celebration unfolded on the TV in my living room, images of a father and son hugging each other and crying in the dugout filled the screen. Jonathan Sanchez’s dad flew in from Puerto Rico to watch his son pitch. On this night, a night when I took my son to see his first baseball game, the Giants’ pitcher’s dad saw his son start a Major League baseball game for the first time.
And – I don’t think that either one of us could have been more proud.