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Two Sides of America's Favorite Pastime


By Valerie J. Macmillan

When I enter Boston's Logan airport and emerge in Boise's Beeson airport, the differences usually strike me first. The air is clean, the men all open doors for me and everyone walks just a little bit slower. But some things exist to remind me that this is still the United States and that there's a lot tying us together too.

We all have fireworks on Independence Day. We all read Dilbert. And we all watch baseball--or should. After all, there's nothing like an evening at the ballpark to give you a sense of the community you live within.

Pre-game, Boston: I pay $10 to sit on the same bleacher as 20 friends. We can see the field, pretty much. We root for the home Sox against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Pre-game, Boise: My parents pay $8 a ticket for us to sit in the box seats overlooking first base. My mom has to sit in the next box with a bar separating's only three seats across. We root for the home Hawks against the Yakima Bears.

Opening lineup, Boston: Everyone buys beer.

Opening lineup, Boise: All the non-Mormons buy beer.

Game start, Boston: We all stand and the men remove their hats. Some group sings the national anthem with embellishments better left to one of the innumerable pop/rock stations. We clap anyway.

Game start, Boise: We all stand and the men remove their hats. Someone sings the national anthem with embellishments better left to one of the innumerable country stations. We clap anyway.

Inning one, Boston: The pitchers are fresh, and the inning goes quickly. Not much to see, especially from our angle.

Inning one, Boise: The pitcher is fresh enough to strike out the first batter. After that, things get a little crazy. A few catches become misses, and the opposing team ends up with two runs before an outfielder, Cesar Geronimo, catches two to get the Hawks up to bat. A man on first, but no score.

Inning two, Boston: Another quick inning. We stop paying attention to the game. A few beach balls get hit back and forth, but they only make it all the way up the section once or twice before security grabs them.

Inning two, Boise: In the middle of the inning, while the teams switch, my mom's co-worker uses an elastic slingshot to get a water balloon into a hot tub being pulled around the field by a pickup truck. She wins the tub. We cheer. The Hawks get on the board. We clap.

Inning three, Boston: Two drunk fans get in a fight. Everyone stands up to get a better view. Security and police arrest and remove them. The section boos.

Inning three, Boise: A woman near us spills a drink on the man in front of her. She apologizes, and the wife of the man says, "Don't worry...he washes."

Inning four, Boston: Another fight. Same result.

Inning four, Boise: Casey Childs, a rookie Hawk with a .000 batting average, gets walked and scores. We clap, a little disappointed that he hasn't gotten a number for his average yet.

Inning five, Boston: "Cracker Jack Man," everyone's favorite vendor, gets our section screaming the name of everyone's favorite ballpark snack in exchange for an autographed box. As it turns out, Cracker Jack Man went to the same high school as two of our party.

Inning five, Boise: The vendor of all the candy went to my high school and was on a college panel with me earlier that year. We chat about how things are going. Childs actually hits a double, earning himself a batting average. Someone wins a prize for coming closest to guessing the attendance: 3,675.

Inning six, Boston: Someone hits a ball toward our section, which could probably seat more than 3,675. The fly ball falls short of being a homer. We go back to observing efforts to start the wave. Loud, sustained booing follows the failures of some sections until people get into the act and three complete circles are made.

Inning six, Boise: Two kids are picked from the crowd to have a race in toy motorized trucks. The announcer says "Go!" before the little girl is all the way in her truck. Loud, sustained booing ensues. The announcer says both will go to the finals in August. There is some light applause, mostly ominous silence. The Hawks score six or so runs.

Inning seven, Boston: We sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." A little confused about the nature of the seventh-inning stretch, a young, very drunk man decides to strip. He is down to his skivvies when the police appear to arrest him. He seems to sober up after the officers cuff him. He is escorted out, still minus his shirt. Rumors circulate that something important may have happened on the field during the commotion.

Inning seven, Boise: We sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The Hawks widen their lead to a comfortable six runs. Pizza Hut is out of pizza thanks to the coaches of two different Little League teams.

Inning eight, Boston: One member of our group becomes engrossed in the game and manages to get some cheers going in the section. It appears to be a close game.

Inning eight, Boise: The kids come out to rerun the truck race. The crowd cheers. This time, the mascot, Humphrey the Hawk, starts the race by bringing down his wing. The little girl wins and is loudly applauded. The Hawks widen their lead to a solid 11 runs.

Inning nine, Boston: The Sox take it 6-4, and people begin to flee out of the stadium, hoping to beat the crowds to the subway and parking garages. Lines half a block long for the subway quickly result.

Inning nine, Boise: Players from the other team, realizing they are going to be beaten by about 10 runs, begin to flirt politely with any young women sitting in first base box seats. When the Hawks wrap it up 14-5, we clap but the loudspeaker is silent--the 10 p.m. noise ordnance has kicked in.

Postgame, Boston: Lines for the subway are insane, but one of our friends gets us home in a little over an hour after some amazing crowd-dodging moves.

Postgame, Boise: All the little-league players who get in for free line up to run bases after the game. After three minutes of traffic congestion and a 10-minute ride, I'm home.

Valerie J. MacMillan '98 is managing editor of The Crimson.

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