When it comes to baseball, the father/son dynamic is usually prioritized by popular culture (see: the ending of Field of Dreams). But as is so often the case in many aspects of life, a mother is usually providing just as much support “behind the scenes”. That has certainly been the case in my own life.
Of course, before I was even a gleam in my parents’ eyes, my Mom had her own “baseball origin story”. Having spent her life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, growing up in the Twin Cities ‘burbs, and having a father who may have been the biggest MN sports supporter I ever knew, this meant a fair amount of family trips to Metropolitan Stadium in the late 1960s and early 70s.
She recalls piling into the family station wagon, complete with wood paneling (as the old joke goes: if you break down on the side of the road at least you’ll have kindling for a fire until help arrives), and heading towards Bloomington.
As a child, the walk through the giant parking lot seemed endless, as did the fascination with the staggered diagonal ramps used to enter the ballpark. Coming from a large family, Knothole Days (reduced cost for child tickets) were often the dates of choice. Sitting on benches just past third base, they would cheer on their baseball heroes, most notably Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Earl Battey (“What a great baseball name!” -Mom), and Cesar Tovar.
When stomaches began rumbling, my Mom doesn’t remember trips to the concession stands. Instead, her own mother would bring in a bizarre confection known as a “hot dog sandwich” for each family member. This rather unique processed-meat treat consisted of two cooked hot dogs split down the middle—imagine a surgical incision—and placed between slabs of Wonder Bread. After “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” was in the books, her Dad would break open the wallet and allow an item-of-choice. Almost without fail, this took the form of a frosty malt cup, complete with wooden spool to dole out the chocolatey goodness.
During the Dome Era of Twins baseball, my Mom’s baseball trips took a back seat to family-rearing. Raising a brood of six children will do that. For a time it was her sister, Aunt Sandy (you may remember her), who tagged-in to take over game-day duties. But of course, Mom was still on the metal bleachers for summer Little League games, driving me to practice in-between, and very understanding when dinner sometimes just had to be eaten in front of the TV because of a “big game” that night.
Lately, my Mom (now past the newborn-and-diapers phase of life) has been able to accompany me to at least a couple Target Field contests every season. In 2019, we traveled to Cleveland and witnessed Miguel Sano seal the AL Central crown for the Twins.
Legendary slugger David Ortiz is attributed as saying this about his mother...
My mom, she wasn’t like a baseball mother who knew everything about the game. She just wanted me to be happy with what I was doing.
While my own Mom certainly isn’t clueless about the sport of baseball, a similar sentiment as Big Papi’s can be applied. She isn’t going to be the first to rattle off a player’s statistics or the team’s place in the standings. But she enjoys the outings to the ballpark simply because she sees me enjoying them so much. With moms, it seems like that’s the way it usually goes.