15.09.22 — Travel

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I pick up here where I left off in my last blog post, after another day of explorations after work over in beautiful Burlington, Vermont…

Another day saw another day at work, which ended when Petergaye and I went out for lunch together. We went to a place called “Union Jack’s”, a supposedly British establishment which was anything but. It was very funny to see their take on Britishness, with gift cards themed to look like £10 notes and weird vinyls of red telephone boxes all over the place. I took an age to decide what I wanted and then got held up as the lady behind the counter didn’t understand my pronunciation of “tomato”. British my arse!

After my lunch of a huge sub sandwich and a cookie, I laid down for a while and wound up having a decent nap. With Megan back home, the two of us jumped in the pool, which was an excellent idea as we were still battling the heat and humidity that were refusing to let us exist without excess sweating.

It was then time for us to get dressed and ready for our evening’s activities, which – as you may have guessed from the spoiler of a title – involved going to see a baseball game! Outside of the softball (like a tamed-down version of baseball from what I gather) game that I’d seen the day before, I’d never seen a “ball game”, so I was excited to throw myself into the atmosphere and see what it was all about.

We ran across this old seemingly abandoned car along the way.

Breen and Adam picked us and Scott up and we headed over to Ryan’s place, where we parked the cars before taking a dodgy back path through a forest and then a graveyard in order to get to the stadium. I was moaning about the uphill climb the whole way, but the excitement soon took over as we neared the baseball ground and began to hear the crowds.

We arrived amongst throngs of other people and there was a real buzz in the air. The shape of a baseball stadium is quite funny, as everyone gathers around the corner where the batter hits the ball, with the other three sides of the stadium practically empty.

I’d dressed as American as I could for the occasion.

Before we left, I’d been told that it was “hotdog night” or something to that effect, which it turns out involved hotdogs on sale for just 25¢ each. As you can imagine, the first thing we did was head straight to the designated 25¢ hotdog stand, where we were told that there was a maximum order of six per person.

I know what you’re wondering, and yes, we all got six hotdogs each. In our defense it was going to be a long evening of baseball and they were only pretty small!

A logistical nightmare then followed as I’d to do some exuberant gymnastics in order to get the ketchup and mustard on the buggers whilst also juggling a hotdog, the box with the other five hotdogs, my beer, my fan, and my camera. We then headed to the stand and found our seats, which involved another impromptu dance in order to clamber over the other rows of seats with my hands still very much full!

My five remaining hot dogs and my beer: the American dream!

The game had already begun as we sat down, and so we got straight into the business of eating our hot dogs, drinking our beers, chanting, jeering, and all that other good stuff. I had the rules of the game explained to me in roundabout terms by everyone who’d come: Megan, Ryan, Scott, Breen, and Aaron, and I tried to follow along for a bit before I ran out of beer and got thirsty again.

Heading out behind the stands for more beer, we wound up missing half an hour of the game as the queues for the bars were now really quite long. At one point in the queue we heard a guy yell “HEADS!” from up in the stand, only to turn round and narrowly avoid being hit by a ball that came sailing over the top of the stadium.

To our disbelief, this then happened again just a few moments later, and this time it hit the guy who was in the queue behind us square on the back. He laughed it off but I’m pretty sure he was left with quite the bruise the next day – they really are heavy balls!

Back in our seats, the sun began to set. As with all Vermont sunsets, this one was absolutely beautiful and had me wandering up and down the stands to try and find the best angle to get some shots of the sky.

There was then a rather exciting moment as the local club’s mascot, the Lake Monster, headed out on to the field flanked by some guys with t-shirt guns. We screamed and waved and jumped around, but alas we were left empty handed.

Then the most curious thing happened as some old style organ music began being piped into the stadium and everyone began to sing: “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd…” Naturally I was very lost and had never heard the song, but it stood out to me as an unforgettable moment from an already amazing trip.

Our next trip out of the stadium to grab beer saw me also get my hands on some merchandise. I picked up a blue cap with the club mascot on it, a yellow shirt with a hotdog holding 25¢, and a pin with the lake monster mascot on it.

We were then lucky enough to catch the star of the show himself, the Vermont Lake Monsters’ mascot. We jumped in line to meet him and grabbed some excellent photos. We were having a fabulous time and were super giggly, so this is the best one I managed to salvage!

After our brush with royalty, me and Megan headed over to a stall which was selling something called fried dough. It turns out that this is just a huge plate-sized portion of just that: dough that’s been fried. It tasted like a doughnut and came accompanied with – of course – maple syrup.

Upon reentering the stadium with our snack, we saw that we’d been so long outside faffing around that the game had since ended. The rest of the gang came down from their seats to join us on the first row and share our sugary and greasy treat, which was as delicious as that may or may not sound!

I then took the opportunity to grab a photo of myself in the empty stadium, as well as some sneaky stolen shots of Megan and Ryan and another couple who were sat relaxing with views directly over the field.

And with that, the my experience at the ball game came to an end. It had been an absolute blast of an evening and something I had never experienced before. The closest I think I have come is when I went to watch my hometown, Burnley, play a match, or perhaps when I saw Atlético de Madrid play Copenhagen once. Big thanks to Megan for making this happen, as it’s something I’d been nagging her about doing for months before landing in the US!

To end the night on a high, we wound back at Al’s for more ice cream. We roped some ladies into taking photos of us on my film camera – I can’t wait to share the photos from that – and grabbed some creemees (their weird word for soft serve ice cream). As you may have guessed, the creemees were maple syrup flavored – what else!