You can have them,” my friend offered.
“No, that’s OK,” I replied.
“I’m serious,” he said. “They’re yours.”
“We’ll be fine,” I said. “We already have tickets.”
“But these are 20 rows behind 1)home plate. They’re perfect.”
“I know, but like I said, we already have tickets.”
“Did you hear what I said?” my friend asked. “Twenty. Rows. Behind. Home. Plate. It doesn’t get better.”
And so the conversation went the day I decided to take my 2)volunteer Little Brother to his first-ever professional baseball game.
It was a perfect night. The peanuts were fresh, the grass was recently mowed, the hot dog buns were soft. Ryan was 10 years old; I was almost 30. Without a doubt, going to the game was a big deal. Why? I wasn’t sure—I wasn’t even that big a baseball fan myself. But surely every kid should have a chance to go to a real baseball game.
To commemorate the event, we even went to the local sporting goods store earlier in the week to try on some baseball 3)mitts.
So now it’s the night of the game. The sun is about to set at 4)Camden Yards, the home of 5)Maryland’s beloved 6)Baltimore Orioles, and I’m ready to show Ryan how real baseball is enjoyed. I buy a hot dog, grab a program and even pick up a bag of peanuts. Sure, I want to give him the full experience, but I also don’t want to spoil him—which is why I 7)cringe when Ryan asks me the 8)all-important question: “Where are our seats?”
It’s a simple question. Where are we sitting? Are we in the 9)outfield? Along the 10)first base line? Back in the upper 11)decks? In many ways, where you sit affects your whole view of the game. Indeed, I thought the same thing myself when my friend offered me his 12)season tickets a few days earlier.
It was an incredibly thoughtful offer; Chuck’s seats were 20 rows behind home plate. As he said, they don’t get much better. But as I prepared for our visit to the 13)ballpark, all I kept thinking was: “If I take Ryan to those incredible seats, won’t I be sending him the wrong message? Won’t I be spoiling him, potentially ruining all of his subsequent ballpark visits?” Sure, I obviously was overthinking it, but I made my decision: It’s better to take him to seats in the14)bleachers, then slowly—after a few games—work our way up to the good seats in front. Teach him to appreciate the world.
That’s the better life lesson.
So there we are, walking up to our seats in far 15)left field. In truth, they are bad seats. We can barely see home plate, much less the infield. The only thing we are close to is the scoreboard, and even then, it’s on our far left. But as we find our aisle and make our way over to our seats, Ryan studies the view and 16)takes it all in. He looks at the bright-green grass—the glare of the lights—and all the people surrounding us. And then, this 10-year-old boy who never has been to a ballpark in his entire life turns to me and says, “These are the best seats in the whole place.”
I almost fall over right there. A wide smile takes his face. And mine. As I said, it was a perfect night. But somehow, it just got better.