By Clyde Davis
The atmosphere cannot be described in terms that are limited to one sense — it involves all five, plus those intangible somethings that we call sixth sense. The aroma of hot dogs, mustard, popcorn; the corny songs and cheers playing over the loudspeaker system; the warm evening breeze,the lit-up, colorful figures throwing, batting and fielding below. It taps right into the brain stem where memories go deepest, beyond words, a zen area …
You are 12 years old again and you have just felt it for the second time in the same game. The solid, shoulder jarring vibration of your bat that tells you immediately your ball is heading for the fence and beyond. There are other home runs, but these kind are the “zen” of homers.
You are 16 and you have been watching Johnny Bench and Tim McCarver carefully, figuring out how to nail a wanna-be base stealer. Your intuition kicks in this time, and you signal your pitcher for a pitchout. Right on cue the runner goes and your arm snaps back, your wrist whips forward and you know, without knowing why, that your throw is right on target. It is baseball “zen.”
You are in seminary and even though the local team is major league, this is before the days of ridiculous ticket prices. You and your buddies can still go to the games, get hot dogs, pretzels and drinks for around 10 bucks. And you do, frequently, because you are bachelors and this is one of the joys of bacheloring.
Zeroing back to the present, this is baseball the way it should be done. This is Albuquerque, and these are the Isotopes, not some overpaid major leaguers. You don’t see anybody golf-clapping for fear of disturbing the person next to them, and you don’t see any rude Philadelphia type fans throwing stuff on the field. Everybody is here to have fun, except possibly the Isotopes, who are on their way to another losing game.
I guess the ambience is there in Amarillo, too. I will find out before the summer is over. I am singularly uninterested in seeing the Rangers or the Rockies. It shouldn’t cost you a week’s salary to go to a baseball game; it takes away from the “zen.”
But do take in a game this summer. It will do your spirits good.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University.