Matt has always wanted to throw the first pitch out at a baseball game. It's just something that he has always dreamed about doing. He is a baseball lover, and just seriously enjoys every minute of a game.
I, on the other hand, do not enjoy baseball at all. So I find it a bit ironic that I absolutely LOVED every second of the game on August 13th! Ready for the play-by-play?
We all met at the church at 4:30 and were ready to go by 5 p.m. There were 24 people going total, but some were meeting there. Jenn drove the church van. We rode with my parents, Aunt Sue, and Uncle Larry. When my dad started the van...it was dead. He was afraid that the starter had gone bad, which they had just replaced in the Yukon. Oh no Thankfully, Stephen saw us and pulled his van around to jump it (I had jumper cables in my SUV like a good little boy scout should!) and it started right up.
Off we went to the game, where we played a few silly games in the parking lot at the Hershey Park stand. They let us in at 6:00, and we were pretty much the only people there. We were BY FAR the biggest group! The guy came around to recruit people to play the games, and he asked Matt to play a putting game. Then, he also asked three of the teenaged girls with us to do an inflatable pony race! I guess it pays to be early!
At about 6:30, Matt went down on the field. He found out that not only was he the first one to throw out the pitch, but that Mike Devereaux was also going to be throwing out a first pitch!!!! (Not exciting for you? Yeah, it wasn't for me either. Apparently, he is Matt's second favorite Oriole of all time--after Cal Ripken, of course.) Matt got him to sign his ball after the pitch, but Louie defiled it with his signature.
I had made some signs for Matt (my family thought it was dumb, but the kids loved it! I knew they would!!) so they all held them up and cheered the entire time he was on the field. Caleb's was the biggest one so the poor kid couldn't even hold it very well...I guess I should have cut the board in half like I did with all of he other ones!
Matt threw his pitch AND made it over home plate!! Darlene (our friend from church who is the head of Game Day Operations and who helped me set this whole thing up) allowed me to come down on the field to take pictures, so I was right there in the action. It was so great! Of course, I had to get a few shots of Matt with the Oriole bird (it was Orioles night) and Louie.
At around the third inning, Darlene came down to ask if Matt would like to announce a batter over the loudspeaker. Would he ever!?!? He asked her if he could bring Owen, who was about jumping out of his pants with excitement! We listened carefully for Matt's voice and cheered when we heard him, but were shocked to hear Owen's voice next on the loudspeaker announcing, "Now batting, Jonathan Tucker!" You should have seen his grin when he came back down to his seat! We cheered really loud for Tucker the rest of the game, since he was "Owen's" player.
Matt played the putting game in the middle of the fifth inning. First he had to answer two Orioles trivia questions: What was Cal Ripken Jr.'s number? Where did the Orioles play before Camden Yards? Of course, he knew the answers to both without hesitation. After all, he grew up falling asleep to Orioles games on the radio! By answering the two questions correctly, he got to move up to a line that was just 4 inches away from the hole. AND he made it!!! He won his entire section free Wendy's Frosties, too!! We spread the word right before he played, so the entire section was cheering him on. Of course, the highlight for Matt was the "cool new Wendy's tshirt" he got!
The kids got a little antsy after the excitement died down, so Amy and I took them on the moon bounce. A nice woman had given us three amusement ride tickets that she didn't need (you get them free with season passes), so we figured why not? It was the perfect way for them to get a little energy out during the more "boring" part of the game.
While we were away at the moon bounce, a fly ball popped up right where we were sitting. Thankfully, Eric put his hand out to try to catch it so that when it hit poor Emma Pearson, it meerly tapped her. After that, Steven decided it was safer for her to be behind home plate where the net was!
At the sixth inning and the seventh inning stretch, the Baysox workers go out on the field to sing and dance. There's our Darlene getting down! You can tell she really loves her job!
During the seventh inning, Stephanie, Amy, and Hannah went out to ride the inflatable ponies. Even though they claimed their social life was officially over, I think they really did have a good time! Stephanie won, but the girls put up a good fight! Stephanie got a cool Baysox backpack for her victory.
Just when we thought the excitement was over....it was one of the last pitches of the game when a batter hit a fly ball into the crowd HARD and FAST. It hit a woman in the head just one second over from us (same row) and bounced away several times. It's never good when you hear the CRACK against the person's head. The paramedics were called in and it appeared that they were going to take her away in the ambulance.
Although that put a bit of a damper on the end of the game, and although the Baysox lost BADLY, it was by far the best game I've ever been to. I am not a baseball fan, but the huge smile on my guy's face at the end of the night made it all worth it! :)