Today is the beginning of Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer. The weather is getting warmer and most of us are becoming more involved in outdoor activities, like grilling outside, hanging out at the pool, exploring or working in the great outdoors or being involved with sports. I heard my "first" sound of summer on Thursday night! Marissa and I went to the baseball field to watch her boyfriend, Steven, play baseball. It was great to be at the ballpark again. We've spent many hours at the baseball field with our boys when they were growing up (and Marissa's softball games, too) and we've missed that. Also, growing up with two brothers and a father who is a sports nut, there were many hours spent at the Cincinnati Reds' stadium or local ballpark. But, on Thursday night, I realized what sounds of the games I had missed all these years. . . .the sound of a baseball making contact! I didn't realize that it sounded different depending on whether it was going to be a good hit or bad hit or if the ball landed in the catcher's mitt. It always sounded like a little "click" to me with my hearing aids no matter where it went. At the kids' games, I always relied on the scoreboard to see if the umpire called a strike or ball. Now I can hear the loudness and sharpness of the ball making contact. There were many times in the past when I saw the batter swing at the ball, heard the "click", looked for the ball in the outfield only to find out that the catcher had it. I never knew the difference because I could never hear or understand the umpire making the call. Now I can tell if the ball is in play, whether the batter makes a good drive or hits a weak fly ball or the ball "pops" in the catcher's mitt. Amazing! It always confused me how fans "just knew" and reacted immediately when a fast ball was hit and was a possible home run. Of course, my reaction was always "delayed" unless someone next to me told me what happened. At the Reds' stadium, the Jumbotron was my clue when the crowd roared the minute a homerun was hit because the sound of a good hit probably reverberated throughout the park. I never could figure that one out. I also understand how a player can rely on the sound of the ball making contact in order to react properly, like a runner on third base waiting to run to home. Jason used to be a pitcher for his high school team so I'll have to ask him if he could tell whether he threw his best fastball by the sound of the catcher's mitt. I know he used to pitch up to 88 mph. It would be interesting to see if anyone has done any research on the acoustics of baseball because when a bad ball is hit, it sounds more like a "thump" whereas a good ball has a different kind of a "crack."
No wonder everyone loves to be at the ball park! I've always enjoyed the smells (not the stinky socks!) and excitement of the games. It's contagious. I'm a people watcher, too, and even though I couldn't hear very well, I enjoyed watching everything and everyone around me, especially the little kids. The food there is good, too. I had a "grand slam," which is a bowl of chili on top of frito chips and covered with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. That used to be our supper (or hot dogs) every time we went to the ball games and I've missed those. It was great and I savored every bite becuase I had not had one in two years! I'm looking forward to going to some more games so. . . "Take me out to the ball game! Take me out with the crowd! Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack. . .I don't care if I never get back! Let me root, root, root for the home team. . .If they don't win it's a shame. . .For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out . . At the old ball game!" (lyrics written in 1908 by Jack Norworth)