If you are the parent of a baseball-obsessed child, you know how it sometimes takes all the patience you can muster to listen while that child talks for huge chunks of time about runs batted in, why a triple is arguably harder to hit than a home run, and whether Pitcher X from 1940 could strike out Batter Y from today.
You bite your tongue when he complains that you never want to play catch with him instead of making dinner. You remain calm when he tries to argue that it's OK to wear a baseball hat and mitt into a restaurant. This is to say nothing of the car rides when that baseball-obsessed child insists on reading aloud the players' stats from the back of baseball cards, because he just knows you will find it fascinating if you really paid attention.
Or so I've been told. Not, of course, that I know any of this from experience.
But going to a minor league baseball game? Now that is something that everyone, even the most sports-oblivious mother that exists, can enjoy.
And going to a game at Fluor Field at the West End, right in downtown Greenville
, on a warm Friday night to see the Greenville Drive
, is even better.
The Drive, a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, play in the South Atlantic League. Fluor Field is like a mini-Fenway Park, complete with a Green Monster and old-fashioned manual scoreboard. They even play "Sweet Caroline" during the 8th inning. But unlike Fenway, Fluor Field also has boiled peanuts instead of just roasted.
Half the fun of a minor-league baseball game is between the innings. We saw two members of the audience in giant, inflated sumo wrestling costumes battling it out after one inning, and a bunch of people dressed up as tomatoes and lettuce and bread in some sort of race to assemble a chicken sandwich after another. Little boys struggled to put on a baseball uniform the fastest (and everyone was rooting for the littlest one, woefully in last place). A baseball clown and Reedy Rip'it, the big frog mascot, wandered the stands.
For Mary Frances, the joy was all in the feasting. My 50 pound, six-year-old child ate two hot dogs, a cheeseburger, french fries, popcorn, M&M's, ice cream and two slushies. She spent some time running around the playground, which was right there in the stadium, in order to make more room for food.
For baseball-obsessed Jimmy, it was all about the game. He stood at the wall at the bottom of the stands for the entire game, mitt ready to catch a ball. He watched every pitch, hit and throw as though it were the deciding play of the World Series. He had the names of all the Drive's players (and the songs that played as they walked out to bat) memorized by the end of the game. He covered his face when things weren't going well and jumped around, fists in the air, when they were.
His father and I got to watch him entranced, got to enjoy his joy. And we got to sit for a good long while, with nothing else to do but relax. Perfect Friday night in the South Carolina upcountry
The Greenville Drive play at Fluor Field at 945 S. Main St., Greenville from April through the end of August. Ticket prices range from $7 to $10. Buy tickets at the Box Office, by phone (864-240-4528), or by clicking here
Section 114 is along the first base line, in foul ball territory, but with no netting. Translation for the non-baseball obsessed: it's the perfect place to sit to try to catch foul balls, and your view of the field is crystal clear.