I couldn’t have been more excited. We were going to take Alex to his first-ever San Francisco Giants game. Well, technically, it wasn’t his first game — he went once when he was 10 months old and once for a work event for Amy, but this was the first game in which he had asked to go, wanted to go, and understood how cool it would be to go to a game with just mommy and daddy. Baby Ryan was going to stay home with a babysitter since we figured he could only sit for about half an inning. It was going to be special.
Alex counted how many “sleeps” he had until the game. When I asked him what jersey he wanted to wear to the game he first replied Derek Jeter (that’s my boy!) and than Sandy Koufax (he doesn’t yet get the whole ‘Beat LA’ thing either). I went to the SF Giants dugout, instead, and bought him a Buster Posey t-shirt, wristbands and some fun “eye black” to wear. The last two items were mostly for the Facebook photos, of course. Throughout the week, we kept asking him “where are we going on Sunday?” to an excited reply of “THE GIANTS GAME!” This is exactly how I envisioned my first game with my oldest son. It was going to be perfect.
On Sunday, we hopped in the car and Alex immediately requested my phone so he could listen to Taylor Swift. As we all sang along to “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “You Belong to Me” the excitement was palpable. I did what every baseball father would do and reiterated that I knew this wasn’t about watching all nine innings and I completely understand that Alex was unlikely to watch a three hour+ game in his seat. And that I was ok with that. However, if Madison Bumgarner was throwing a perfect game or a no-hitter, Amy and Alex were on their own and could take the car home and I would take the train. I was willing to leave if a tie-game heading into the ninth, or if Buster Posey already had two home runs and coming to bat again, but no way was I missing history. Amy rolled her eyes and “accepted” my logic.
“Look Dad, a huge ship.” — Alex said as the Bay became visible.
“There’s another one, Mommy, and it’s blue.”
I tried to explain to him what the ships carry and how they might bring the containers to freight trains that carry the stuff to stores throughout the area.
“Look, a seagull and all those pigeons.”
We pull off the highway and head toward parking.
“Look, a giant cat” (it was a billboard with a cat on it).
“Wow, check out all those giant, humongous cranes” (the cranes lifting freights at the shipyard).
In the car, we had prepared Alex for what we expected to be the most people he had ever seen in one place at one time. Truth be told, I was a bit nervous that the crowds would be overwhelming and scary for an almost 5 year old since they are a bit overwhelming for most adults. We reviewed the three rules we had for going to a public place with so many people: 1) Listen to mommy and daddy 2) Tell us if you have to go to the bathroom, no accidents and 3) You have to hold mommy or daddy’s hand whenever we’re walking around. I asked him to repeat the rules and he said, “be safe” — close enough.
We walked into the stadium and it’s really the first time I saw a ballpark through the eyes of a 4-year old. It’s huge, there are tons of people and it’s really loud. Alex is actually ok in crowds, but noise is another thing all together. I had told him beforehand that no matter what he was required to take a few photos with us by our seats because even if we had a terrible time, everyone on Facebook was going to think it was the best time ever because nothing bad happens on Facebook. We get to our seats, have the usher take our photo and it begins.
“I have to go potty.” We’re off back through the crowd to race to the bathroom.
We come back. Well, not exactly. Alex stops in the tunnel to our seats and decries “I’m scared — I don’t want to go to our seats.” I anxiously persuade him (e.g. carry him) to our seats hoping once we sit down and the game starts he’ll be fine.
Perhaps as an adult I never realized how amazingly loud the game is. People are talking/yelling, the music is blasting and the announcer is calling out each name in the line-up and a bunch of other things — it’s just too much for our little man.
“I need cotton candy.”
Back through the crowd and noise to get cotton candy, a coke, a pretzel, two hot dogs, and the food most associated with a baseball game…gummy worms.
Back through the tunnel again and “I’m scared.” This time, I’m carrying all that food and can’t — and don’t want to — pick him up. Somehow I persuade him to go to the seats.
The game begins and I start talking about the players and what’s happening hoping that he’ll get interested and not want to leave.
Madison Bumgarner throws a pitch and Alex asks “Is he nice?” and I say “Yes, of course he’s nice, he’s on the Giants.” I smile at Amy — it won’t last long. Alex munches on his cotton candy. He screams “Go Giants” and I think there’s hope.
Nolan Arenado, the third batter, gets up and Alex asks “Is he mean?” to which I reply “Well…he’s on the other team so sure, he’s mean.”
Arenado immediately blasts a two-run homer to left field — “Yes, Alex, he’s definitely mean.” Amy smiles at me and says slyly “Well, there goes your no-hitter and perfect game.”
Alex has had enough of the noise, the crowd and the heat. And after one too many times telling us he’s scared, I tell him we can go to the big slide in left field. I can watch the game from there after all, and it’s not like we’re leaving or anything, and I never really stray from my seat at a baseball game so it would be nice for me to actually see the ballpark.
Alex smiles for the first time and we hold hands and head out to the bleachers.
The slide actually looks really cool and Alex is very excited. It’s very crowded so Amy takes Alex up to wait in line and I wait at the bottom (note to parents of young kids: I have no idea how one parent would actually do this – I don’t trust my 4 year old to wait on a 20 minute line by himself nor do I think he would be able to find me in a crowd if I wasn’t there at the bottom — in fact, we saw a number of kids lost). Anyway, Alex loves the slide. From the line, you can see the ships and the seagulls and all the cool things the Bay has to offer. And for me, I can almost see the game. I almost saw Matt Duffy’s first inning triple and Buster Posey’s big two-run single to take the lead a few innings later.
But, Alex was having a blast. Slide down. Wait on line. Slide down again. What’s better than that? And judging from the hundreds of kids also going down the slide, apparently, there were a lot of kids that could care less about the actual game.
After a number of times of waiting for 20 minutes for a 3 second slide ride, I decide that maybe Alex is ready for his chance to watch the game again. “No thanks…can I have more cotton candy?” With nothing else to do, we walk toward the exit in the 4th inning, all three of us holding hands while Alex continues to munch on his cotton candy. We stop to get his little brother a present because he was nice enough to let us go to the game without him. And Alex on his own says “I also want to get a present for baby Avery.” (Avery is the 3-month old daughter of Alex’s nanny). Wow. We smile with delight at the thoughtfulness of our little man.
Alex runs up and down the empty ramps leading toward the exit — he’s having so much fun. I can hear the crowd scream, as something good must have just happened. Oh well, I can watch it later.
We head toward the car.
“Look at that train. What kind of train is it?” (It’s MUNI or something)
“Did you have fun at the game?” Amy asks.
“Super fun,” Alex replies.
“What did you like best?” I ask.
“Watching the Giants play.” Alex says.