As children grow up, a parent tries to introduce them to all kinds of life’s experiences. You also try to plant in their minds a series of visual and emotional moments, which they can recall and replay in those times when you cannot be with them.
A parent takes his children fishing or camping or perhaps takes them on trips to see other cities or countries. And when that parent is a father, he takes his children to sporting events.
In Atlanta, we’ve been graced with lots of opportunities to see great sporting events, from championship college football teams, to NCAA basketball tournaments to one of the greatest events in the world, the Olympics. But in America, where sports are often elevated to a spiritual domain, the highest church of all would have to be to take your kids to a World Series baseball game.
A few years ago, when the Braves were in their second World Series against Toronto, I was negotiating a business deal. When my contact at this corporation mentioned that she could throw in two field-level tickets to the Seventh Game, the deal was done. In the high church of World Series, the Seventh Game is akin to going to a Sunday service with the Pope.
I discussed the logistics with my daughter and secured her blessing on allowing me to take my son to The Game. You can imagine my heartbreak when the Braves lost the series in the sixth game, voiding the tickets I had so excitedly held.
A few years later, when the Braves were opening the World Series on a Saturday night against the Yankees, I decided to be a little more proactive. I took both of my kids down to the stadium, determined to beg, borrow or scalp tickets to get in. My son was happy to give it a shot. My daughter was willing to try to get in the game, but she was humiliated when I presented her with what I thought was a clever, full-proof scheme.
I showed her three simple signs I made on my computer and told her we were each to hold one in sequence. My daughter’s read, “Never been,” my son’s sign read, “Wanna go,” and mine was a simple plea: “Need three.” I positioned my kids near one of the entrance ramps to the stadium and we stood for nearly an hour and a half. Crowds of people pointed at us, laughed at us and consoled my daughter, who covered her face in embarrassment while reluctantly holding the sign aloft under my orders. We stuck around even after the game started, hoping something would loosen up by the second inning, it was all for naught We never even attracted the attention of a TV camera.
We finally decided to go where we knew there would be hundreds of Braves fans who didn’t have tickets, either. We grabbed a cab and headed to the Varsity on North Avenue where we got front-row seats in one of the TV rooms. Munching on delicious Varsity fare, we had a great time and took a cab home satisfied that we, and the Braves, did our best.
Recently I read about major league baseball raising its World Series ticket prices to astronomical heights, far out of the range of a bottom-feeder like me. So this year, should the Braves go all the way, I’ll probably prepare a new sign for my home or office: “Gone Fishin’.”