When I close my eyes and imagine the summers of my childhood, they are tree houses, endless games of “Hot Box”, water wars, a stack of novels, and Red Wing baseball games. Summers started in mid April when we bundled in sleeping bags and winter-wear for opening day of the Rochester Red Wings. As hits were made, games won and lost, we would slowly peel away our layers as the weather warmed until it was late summer and we sweated beneath the hot sun sipping lemonade and waiting with ready mitts for a stray ball that might come our way.
There was a time in my life when I knew every player on the Red Wings where we had season tickets and also the Baltimore Orioles where promising Red Wings would go. They paraded by our seats on the first base line, occasionally tossing smiles and balls to the girl with pigtail braids in the front row. My brothers and I would have a basket full at the end of every summer. My father taught me to score games, and to this day, I can’t sit through a game without a score book and pen in my lap. Baseball games are the taste of fried dough and the sounds of the conversations with our summer baseball family, those who shared seats around us for decades. I would grow up and leave my hometown and those nightly summer baseball games, though my father and our summer Red Wings family are still there, leather mitts at the ready.
On this opening day of baseball season, The Orioles, once gloried not only in play, but in my childhood memories will play another underdog, The Minnesota Twins, the new allegiance of The Red Wings. Back in seats along the first base line at Frontier Field, we are Twins fans now though I no longer know the players on any of the teams. I have been gone too long. But I will always have a place in my heart for a uniform of orange and black with a small oriole bird that reminds me of my fathers aviator sunglasses staring into the outfield.
|Photo sent from my father on Opening Day at the Red Wings|