Take Me Out to the Ballgame

An afternoon with the Birmingham Barons is always a home run.

Written by Joe O’Donnell; Photography by Chuck St. John

Baseball has a rhythm all its own. And don’t dare try to interrupt it.

The rhythm has nothing to do with checking your phone or posting to Instagram. It is older than social media. Some say the timing is way off for our modern era, but here at Regions Field the timing feels just about right.

The late afternoon sun cuts diagonally across the stadium seats, the brown dirt of the infield, the green grass of the outfield, and the ads arrayed against the walls. Looking out on the stadium this time of day is like reading a sundial, the slant of the sun calls out for  batting practice, warm-ups, stretching.

There are no fans in the stands this far before game time. A few of the vendors wander around or sit in the stands, waiting for the evening’s work to begin. In that way they are just like the players down on the field below, prepping for what is to come.

The best part of Barons baseball is the sense that the experience is more than just a game. It is a ritual: batting practice before the game, the wetting down of the infield to control the dust that is sure to be kicked up in the hours to come.

These are the essential elements of baseball, the precursor to the next few hours spent munching on popcorn or eating hot dogs and drinking beer from tall plastic cups.

Out in left field, there is the grassy area where the kids gather to chase after foul balls or just play tag or wrestle while the game goes on around them.

And the promotions just keep coming. Wet Nose Wednesdays: bring your dogs out to the park for a night of baseball. Thirsty Thursdays: $2 beer, wine, and soft drinks. Friday Night Fireworks after the game. There are jersey giveaways and “kids run the bases” nights, and even a peanut-free night for allergy sufferers.

The beauty of baseball is the variety and timelessness of a day or night at the park.

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