Thursday, May 29, 2014
Memories at ballpark
The tradition started when my son Andy was in elementary school.
Most years, in late May, we’d drive to Hoover, Ala., for the SEC Baseball Tournament.
We’d usually only stay for a couple of days – due to my job and his youth baseball schedule.
This year, we renewed the tradition, just a few days after Andy’s 20th birthday and three months from my 53rd birthday.
However, this time the conference tournament and the location changed.
My wife Pam ordered tickets a few weeks back for the entire Conference USA Baseball Tournament, played on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. We finalized the plans, for just Andy and I, after he secured a job on campus for the summer break.
I left Wednesday morning, May 21, and returned Sunday afternoon, May 25. It was a great trip.
I watched all or part of 13 of the 15 games played at Pete Taylor Park. Andy, due to having to work some on Wednesday, joined me for all or part of 12 of the 15 games.
There were four games Wednesday, four games Thursday, two games Friday, four games Saturday and one game Sunday.
Needless to say, neither Andy nor I went to the championship game. It pitted Rice against Texas San Antonio with the Owls taking the championship. On Monday, they were announced as one of the eight top seeds in the country for the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
The USM Golden Eagles dug a hole for themselves Wednesday night, committing six errors in a one-run loss to East Carolina. But they fought back, winning Thursday, Friday and once Saturday before being eliminated close to midnight Saturday night by Texas San Antonio.
It was hot during the day and super nice for the night games.
For most of the daytime games, we left our reserved seats just behind home plate on the third-base side and found some vacant seats in the shade of the press box.
But Saturday afternoon’s game in the heat was perhaps the most fun of the tourney. Several of Andy’s friends surrounded us in some different seats on the first-base side of home plate. Plus, some die-hard adult USM fans were nearby. It was an entertaining game, to say the least, and a win for the Golden Eagles.
Andy and I also made the news, courtesy of the Hattiesburg American.
Yolanda Cruz, a staff writer, was looking for USM students Friday evening who were there cheering on the Eagles. She spotted Andy and interviewed the two of us.
Later that night, at the next game, Hattiesburg American photographer Kelly Price found us in our reserved seats and snapped a bunch of photos of the two of us.
The next morning, Saturday, we were in the headlines on the sports pages of the daily newspaper and on the website. The picture in the paper was huge and the writeup talked about Andy’s love for baseball, which he developed at a young age, and our tradition of participating in and watching the sport together.
We both wish the Eagles could have won the tournament. But more importantly, this father and son renewed a very special tradition.
We created some more wonderful memories at the ballpark.
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