When we bought the tickets, it felt like a way of thumbing our nose at winter.
The opening of baseball season has always been a sure sign of spring at our house, even when the thermometer refuses to cooperate.
A few years back, we spent the opening weekend in Cincinnati, catching a couple of Reds games. Some years, we’ve traveled down to Indianapolis to see the Indians launch their season at Victory Field.
But most years, we’ve headed to Fort Wayne, first for the Wizards and now for the TinCaps.
After a rough winter, the dream of sitting in the sun while watching baseball in a beautiful ballpark inspires us.
So buying tickets to a couple of games for the opening weekend made sense. It’s also a way for the two of us to celebrate my wife’s birthday and a personal anniversary.
As the game dates approached, we kept watching the forecast. And what we saw wasn’t encouraging. Temperatures were hovering in the 40s for highs, and cold rain was falling most of the week. The weekend forecast promised sun, but it didn’t promise warmth.
So we bundled up.
Instead of watching the games in short sleeves, we put on layer after layer. The start time for the Saturday night game was 5:05 p.m., and by then even the most optimistic fan had to be wondering if football might have been more suitable for the conditions than baseball.
I ended up wearing a turtleneck, a sweater and a leather jacket I’d worn all winter. After the first couple of innings, I switched from a baseball cap to an insulated wool hat.
My wife was even more bundled up, and she’d packed a backpack with gloves, earmuffs and a fleece blanket.
We were better suited for a polar expedition than nine innings of Class A minor league ball.
But a funny thing happened.
After the first pitch was thrown, it didn’t matter.
Oh, sure, our noses were cold. But spring’s promise was playing itself out in front of us on the diamond.
And we weren’t the only ones hardy enough to make the game.
Coming back to our seats with a couple of Oberons, I ran into Lloyd Wright, one of Connie’s former co-workers, on the concourse. He was there, he explained, with a group from Pennville Elementary School. Lloyd’s daughter is married to Pennville principal Rex Pinkerton, and it was only a matter of time before I ran into Rex as well.
A few innings later, as the TinCaps stumbled and errored their way to a 13-5 defeat, I stopped by the section where the Pennville kids, teachers and parents were sitting.
Were they cold? Sure. But you couldn’t tell it from the warmth of the smiles on the kids’ faces. After all, they were at the ballpark. What could be better than that?