Friday, June 22, 2012
By ERIC HAMILTON
I used to be a huge baseball fan. It was my life from when I was old enough to hold a bat until around high school age. It was by far my favorite sport and really the only thing that took my attention away from it was the start of the Ohio State football season.
Growing up, I used to spend the entire day at the ballpark. If our summer season was over, a group of us would just meet at the fields and play pick-up games. We usually didn’t have enough players to field full teams. So, we used the typical rules: ghost men on the bases, balls hit to right field were a foul and instead of being thrown out at first base, and we were out if the ball got to the pitcher (pitcher’s hand) before we got to the base.
If we only had a handful of ball players, we took up a game of home run derby on the smaller fields. The fences were 200 feet, so that was perfect for home run derby.
In addition to playing ball as much as possible, I also watched a lot on television and attended as many games as I could. Living in Columbus, only 100 miles from Cincinnati, I grew up as a Reds fan. I made it to about 5-7 games a season. Most of those were with my best friend’s family, but then when we were old enough to drive, my friends and I went down on our own.
It was a fun time. We’d buy plastic 2-liters of pop and bags of chips to take to the game. Back then, you were allowed to bring your own food as long as there were no glass bottles. But we would get odd looks as we passed out plastic cups of soda down the row. It sure saved a lot of money though.
We’d buy “top six” tickets, which were like $5 for seats in the top six rows of the stadium. But as the game started, we’d spot vacant seats closer to the field and move down. By the fifth inning, we were almost behind the dugout.
One of my fondest baseball experiences was when we used to go to Columbus Clippers games. That is the AAA team in Columbus. They used to be affiliated with the New York Yankees, but now they are the Indians’ farm team.
A few times a season, the Clippers would host “Dime a Dog Night.” It was the best promotion ever — hot dogs for 10 cents each! Some nights, it was so packed that you stood in the hot dog line until the seventh-inning stretch.
It is cool that we have the Scrappers in the Valley. For pure baseball fans, it’s a great opportunity to watch the game, while paying reasonable prices. You can get close to the field, get autographs and watch future professional players. You can also afford to take your family without spending your mortgage payment.
I’m excited because I’m going to a Scrappers game next week with a group of teenagers and a few adults. I haven’t been to a game in a couple seasons. But this trip should be fun, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s “Dollar Night.” That means I can buy a ticket, three hot dogs and a drink for only $5! Talk about cheap entertainment — that’s like $1.66 an hour.
OK, so hot dogs won’t be a dime like they were in the good old days, but it should be a good time. And I won’t even have to bring my own 2-liters.