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Diary of a Baseball Dad 

A Monsters mash with a family of fans

click to enlarge MICHAEL TONN

The Vermont Lake Monsters’ 2010 season opens this Friday, with a home game against the Lowell Spinners. Anticipating the action reminded this Burlington baseball fanatic of past family nights at Centennial Field and cheering on his team … sort of.

******

5:30 p.m. Dad leaves work early to ensure that he doesn’t miss the first pitch of tonight’s Lake Monsters game.

6:00 p.m. Mom makes mac ’n’ cheese because the children are too hungry to wait until they get to Centennial Field to eat.

6:50 p.m. The family arrives at Trinity College and, as usual, the “PARKING LOT FULL” signs are out.

6:55 p.m. Dad parks at [location of secret parking space redacted at request of author]. He’s not really sure if it’s “legal,” but decides to risk it for the 347th time.

7:00 p.m. Baby Girl is already at least 50 yards behind the rest of the family as they walk briskly down Colchester Avenue toward the ballpark.

7:02 p.m. Dad tells the rest of the family to keep walking while he goes back and picks up Baby Girl.

7:08 p.m. Dad contemplates the meaning of “CUT CONSUMPTION, NOT FORESKIN,” painted on the house across from the ballpark, while waiting for the crossing guard to stop traffic.

7:12 p.m. Winded from walking briskly with Baby Girl in his arms, Dad catches his first glimpse of the scoreboard and sees that the Lake Monsters are already down 3-0.

7:18 p.m. Dad and Baby Girl arrive at their usual seats. No. 1 Son is sitting on a stack of four seat cushions and refuses to give up any of them.

7:19 p.m. The Fans Behind Them display the giveaway items that the family would have received had they arrived at the ballpark around the time that Mom decided to make mac ’n’ cheese.

7:24 p.m. Dad takes orders for his first run to the concession stand.

7:28 p.m. Dad runs into his favorite usher and receives the usher’s latest handout on his effort to bring varsity baseball back to the University of Vermont.

7:39 p.m. While standing in line at concessions, Dad realizes that he has no cash, so he goes to the souvenir stand and purchases $20 in Monster Money with his credit card.

7:51 p.m. Dad returns to the usual seats and delivers the goods. He learns that in his absence the Lake Monsters scored their first run on a walk, a wild pitch and an error, making the score 6-1.

7:53 p.m. After borrowing the scorecard from The Fans Behind Them to see if he recognizes any names on the opposing team’s roster, Dad settles in to enjoy the game.

7:55 p.m. Baby Girl has to go to the bathroom. And she has to do it now.

8:07 p.m. On returning from the bathroom, Dad is informed by No. 1 Son that he, too, needs to go to the bathroom. And he has to do it now.

8:21 p.m. The family’s favorite vendor calls out, “Get your hot, salty nuts,” drawing snickers from the crowd. No. 1 Son works on his vendor impression for the next two innings.

8:25 p.m. One minute behind schedule, the FedEx plane takes off from behind the right-field fence.

8:29 p.m. For the 214th time this season, the family responds enthusiastically to the “Everybody clap your hands, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP, come on, y’all!” cheer.

8:37 p.m. Toting his handheld video camera, the man whom the fans in the family’s section have dubbed “The Hardest-Working Man in the Ballpark” makes his way from behind the plate out toward left field to do whatever it is he does.

8:52 p.m. Even though it’s only the fifth inning, the children start their discussion about which hard candy they will select when exiting the ballpark.

9:04 p.m. After determining that it doesn’t contain a $5 bill, a fan hands No. 1 Son the foam finger he has caught, marking the twelfth time this season that this has occurred.

9:09 p.m. Dad takes orders for his second run to the concession stand. In lieu of Dippin’ Dots, No. 1 Son negotiates to play the game where he hits a wiffle ball off a stream of air.

9:13 p.m. While standing in the beer line, Dad realizes that he doesn’t have enough Monster Money left, so he goes to the souvenir stand and purchases another $20 with his credit card.

9:24 p.m. Dad returns to the usual seats and delivers the goods. He learns that in his absence a Lake Monster has hit a two-run homer, making the score 9-3.

9:28 p.m. Dad takes No. 1 Son to the game where he hits a wiffle ball off a stream of air. Despite making good contact, No. 1 Son fails to hit the ball into any of the holes and returns dejectedly to the usual seats.

9:35 p.m. The family’s favorite vendor returns, this time bearing Chessters. In a move that he learned from The Fans Behind Them, No. 1 Son asks (just as he did at the previous game, and the 10 before that), “What is a Chesster?” The vendor gives his usual response, “It’s an ice-cream-cookie thing,” drawing the usual snickers from The Fans Behind Them.

9:36 p.m. No. 1 Son negotiates for a Chesster, explaining that, unlike Baby Girl, he hasn’t had any Dippin’ Dots.

9:41 p.m. No. 1 Son falls asleep within 30 seconds of finishing his Chesster.

9:45 p.m. Even though one of her children is already asleep, Mom insists on staying through the seventh-inning stretch to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

9:52 p.m. After singing, Mom and Dad gather up all of their belongings (which have somehow become spread over half the length of Row E), say goodbye to The Fans Behind Them and make their way toward the exit.

9:56 p.m. Carrying No. 1 Son over his shoulder, Dad waits impatiently as Baby Girl sifts through the entire basket of hard candies to find the exact one she wants. She then repeats the process for the benefit of her brother, knowing exactly which one he wants due to their earlier discussion.

10:06 p.m. As he nears Colchester Avenue, Dad hears the characteristic sounds of a Lake Monsters rally.

10:07 p.m. While waiting for the crossing guard to stop traffic, Dad contemplates how he would react if one of his neighbors allowed his yard to return to its natural state.

10:13 p.m. Tuning in the game on his car radio, Dad learns that the Lake Monsters scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the score to 9-8.

10:24 p.m. The family arrives home. Dad carries in No. 1 Son while Mom carries in Baby Girl, who fell asleep in the car. Dad will have to wait until he checks the Lake Monsters’ website tomorrow to see if they completed their comeback.

Burlington attorney and baseball fan Tom Simon has edited two books and written numerous articles on the sport’s history. This is his first attempt at thinly veiled fiction.

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Tom Simon

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