When a baseball game is a blowout, announcers will fill time during the game by telling stories. With the Mariners out of the race, I would like to share one of my stories. It is the time my parents had a dream of becoming permanently kid free, by sending us to a Mariners game with my older brother.
My brother and his friend were going to the Mariners game. My dad jumped at the opportunity to send my younger sister and me to the game with him. We were 8 and 9 at the time and of course excited to go anywhere with my brother. What older brother wouldn't love to take his kid sisters with him to the game?
My brother was driving for a little over a year and had already been involved in two car accidents. So to say we were taking our chances riding with him is an understatement. He drove some big two-door thing, that when we sat in the back seat we would sink down into the seat. From where I was sitting I could not see out the front window, which I am sure was for the better.
With this being the 70's safety was not a factor and seatbelts were optional. It was an option my parents didn't feel we needed. If we would have crashed my sister and I would have been launched out of the back seat faster then a Griffey homerun ball. (Exhibit A: no parent in their right mind would have let their child ride with an inexperienced driver like my brother.)
We made it to the Kingdome in one piece, got to our seats and prepared to watch batting practice. We sat in the front row of left field where there is a gap between the front row and the outfield wall of about 8 feet with a 12 foot drop. During batting practice balls would land in this space and sit there until a crew member came along and collected them.
My brother had this clever idea for me to climb over the railing and drop down to get the balls before they were picked up. My first thought was if I could get down there how would I get out. My brother gave me this re-assuring look and told me not to worry. So over the railing I went, lowered myself down as far as I could and let go.
I fell the last four to five feet on to the cement ground. I managed to land on my feet without breaking anything. I grabbed the baseballs and tossed them up to my brother without a care in the world of getting caught. I kind of wish I had, it would have served my dad right to get a call from Kingdome Security. (Exhibit B: see what can happen from a lack of parental supervision, I was lucky not to have landed on my head.)
Once I got all the balls tossed up, I had one final hurdle to cross and that was getting out. That was the day I learned that the panels of the outfield wall were connected with metal piping. I was able to fit my foot between the pipe and the wall and climbed right out with no help from my brother.
With some time to kill before the game started my sister and I were ready to go explore. There is no way my dad would have allowed us to go by ourselves but since he trusted us with my brother it was not up to him. We managed to explore the Kingdome without getting lost, hurt or abducted. (Exhibit C: who lets a 17 year-old watch his younger sisters in a crowd of 12,000 in a big cement dome?)
With the game over and the crowd leaving all we had to do was make it home. If I was scared of his driving in the daytime, imagine how I felt about his driving at night. As we slowly inched our way out of the parking lot, missing pedestrians that were cutting between cars like a game of Frogger. We would eventually make it to I-5 and thankfully be in the clear and on our way home. (Exhibit D: see Exhibit A above)
When we made it home I could see the disappointed look on my parents face as they did a quick head count and saw we all made it home safe and sound. They thought they had the perfect plan, but despite them I survived my brother's driving, climbing over a railing and running around the Kingdome unsupervised.
I would bet most parents at some point or another while raising their kids have had that moment, when they dream of the day they will be kid free. No more finger prints on the wall, running around to after school activities or breaking up sibling fights for the umpteenth time. I hope my parents enjoyed living that dream for a few hours that day.
**Side Note: I managed to pay my dad back at the next game we went too. I got to see the shocked and panicked look on his face when without warning I climbed over the railing, dropped down the 12 feet, picked up the baseballs and climbed back out.