Falcon Park

A late summer discovery, and don’t I feel like an idiot for waiting all this time, was Doubledays baseball over in Auburn. We caught the last game of the season, and can’t wait for next Spring. Falcon Park, its players and fans are everything baseball should be. Parking is free! Every seat is a good seat. The players sign autographs.

The youthful announcer is excited about every syllable that comes out of his mouth. Following his lead, we applauded Bob and Dorothy’s 44th anniversary. We said “Amen” to slogans like, “Auburn, a great place to live. Curley’s, a great place to eat.” We were invited to stop by Walmart, “for any need you have.” We put our hands together for the winners of the Lowe’s Plunger Toss and the Little Caesar’s Dizzy Bat Race. Between the top and bottom of the first, Roger Daltrey sang, “Out here in the fields!”

And as the man in front of Laurie sat down, he generously treated her to four inches of butt cleavage. Military researchers looking into a death ray should forget about lasers and focus on butt cleavage. Laurie rocked back (luckily we’d paid $5 and the seat had arms and a back) and gasped, “If he gets back up, I’m leaving.” But I know she’ll be looking for him next year.

:: Summer, 2003 ::

I may be alone in this, but Auburn reminds me of Los Angeles. I haven’t got what it takes to live there, but I love to visit. In L.A., the Huntington calls to me, with its library, art gallery and gardens. In Auburn, it’s Falcon Park, home of the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League.

I confess that I have yet to stay for an entire game. Give me two hot dogs, two beers and the National Anthem and I am satisfied. Well, not quite. I must have people, some characters, and Falcon Park is blessed with legions. This summer, I especially enjoyed:

The young women who Sybil Anderson, a sage observer of the Falcon Park scene, describes as “the walkers.” They come dressed to promenade and cloud young men’s minds. The minds of older men are just collateral damage. A special favorite from Opening Day: a walker in a belly shirt with MY BOYFRIEND emblazoned across the top, and underneath in smaller letters, “is out of town”

A t-shirt that read, “HARVARD… because not everyone can get into Geneseo”

The Lucky Program and a chance to win a six-pack of tube socks

The announcer-read ad for a dentist, that began, “Baseball makes you smile, and the best person to protect that smile…”

Elderly couples looking for their seats while the PA system plays “Shake Your Groove Thing”

The Savannah Bank Base Race where the contestant, however small, slow or directionally challenged, always triumphs over mascot Abner Doubleday

A toddler in a Jeep Cherokee stroller

Bare feet on the railings or seat backs, to remind you this is not the Skaneateles Festival

The night a squirrel ran out onto the field after the National Anthem. The home team’s general manager was at home plate and he placed a call on his walkie-talkie, either to the office to have his Job Description read aloud or to his crack security team. The answer from either quarter appeared to be “You da man!” He gamely trotted into the infield and ushered the squirrel across the base paths, out into right field, into foul territory, and finally past the tarps, encouraged at every stride by the applause of the crowd.

And my most favorite: The evening when a young woman started to sing the National Anthem, but the microphone made her sound like one of Donald Duck’s nephews. So she let the mike fall to her side, and sang alone, in the open air, until a few voices from the stands could be heard joining hers, and then more, and more, until by “the land of the free” the entire stadium was singing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a thousand voices strong. It was darned inspiring.

I can’t wait until Opening Day.

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