Baseball & Babies

An old post from Mere Comments related to the subject of this blog, available in full at http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2006/04/baseball_babies.html, with a brief excerpt as follows:
First day of the 2006 Major League Baseball Season. I am sitting in the back of a taxicab riding past the baseball stadium of the Philadelphia Phillies (I don't know its corporate brand name, and even if did I wouldn't give them the plug). "Have you been to a baseball game there?" I ask the driver. As soon as I ask, I realize my mistake; my brain is impaired by the early hour, too little sleep, the latter made all the worse by the unanticipated (when I booked the flight) fact that I would have to move my clock forward an hour before going to bed.

To my stupid question the cab driver, in an Arabic accent, said, "No, sir." Of course not. I doubt the reason he gave--"It's too expensive"--explains it all, but I would not wager a nickel on the likelihood of any immigrant from the Middle East bothering to pay to attend a sporting event as foreign to him as curling must be to a Sudanese Anglican.

But I was on the same page with him when he said, "Too expensive." I thought about it for a minute and said he was right, it's way too expensive. Indeed, one must shell out a small fortune to bring a couple of sons or more to watch the national pastime.

You know what's coming next: it didn't use to be that way. I'll be brief: when I was a teenager I could attend 21 Detroit Tiger home games in the summer of 1967 and hardly notice an adverse effect on my modest bank account, which grew week by week through profits made delivering newspapers. For one thing, doubleheaders were abundant, and that helped a lot.

Now you have to bring the credit card. I don't have much sympathy any more for the steroid-enhanced egos and paychecks of major league players turned into multi-bulti-millionaires when tickets to a game for many families with kids, if they choose to go, really can be managed once a year, if at all. For us, baseball games were attended when we got freebie tickets from school when the children got good grades.

So I thought about "the kids" and realized, looking back, just how limited our disposable income was by having them. I told the driver I knew what he meant about "too expesive." I doubt he believed me at first, me with my suit and tie (I was heading to church--in Chicago), being picked up at a nice downtown Philadelphia hotel.

But when I said my wife and I had six children, he became animated and said, "You are blessed by God!" He said he had five children (so far)

* * *

I knew I stood on familiar ground with the cab driver when it comes to welcoming and desiring children. He knew it, too, and was both surprised and eager to talk to this unusual, to him, American. Sadly, it's a ground that has been rapidly abandoned by many of my fellow Christians, and the taxi driver (and his friends) know it. I wish I could have told him that millions of American Christian families are having large families.

We inject chemicals both to drive up batting averages (and thus bank accounts) and to suppress the birth rate. More is better seems to be an American creed, but more of what? Not children, and certainly not virtue--or so it would seem to those who view America from afar through the images we export in order to grow our bank accounts, but not our families.
My own smaller family than either the cab driver or Jim Kushiner (four children) also enjoy sports, generally going to free games at the college where I work (or on cheap season passes for the kids for the games that are not free -- football, basketball and baseball), usually taking along a few friends of my children as well, and with an occasional minor league baseball game thrown in for good measure. Somehow, I find watching college athletes and hopeful minor league professionals more satisfying when surrounded by children than I ever found attending major league sporting events without them. I guess it comes down to what you value more.

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