The pair of seats above was acquired at the last game played at Parker Field in 1984. With the help of my then-girlfriend, Tana Dubbe (pronounced Doobie), we literally ripped them up from their platform. Others were doing the same, as the authorities actually allowed/encouraged it. A few days later the grandstands were torn down. Ed […]
The pair of seats above was acquired at the last game played at Parker Field in 1984. With the help of my then-girlfriend, Tana Dubbe (pronounced Doobie), we literally ripped them up from their platform. Others were doing the same, as the authorities actually allowed/encouraged it. A few days later the grandstands were torn down.
Ed Note: With the swirl of the news that the R-Braves are apparently about to drop the “R” from their uniforms to play baseball elsewhere, I’ve dusted off a old piece published by STYLE Weekly. File it under In Happier Times.
The Stretch (Oct. 4, 1999)
by F.T. Rea
With the turning of the leaves, The Fan District of Richmond, Va., will again be transformed into a living impressionistic cityscape. As they always do, the season’s wistful breezes will facilitate reflection.
All of which leads to the fact that yet another baseball season has come and gone. After 6,783 games, the last game ever has been played at Detroit’s fabled Tiger Stadium. The Giants and the Astros will be playing in new parks next season as well. The World Series, first played in 1903, will soon be upon us. Although baseball’s claim as the National Pastime may no longer hold up, the colorful lore generated by the magic of events at baseball parks probably outweighs that of all the other sports put together.
Of my childhood memories few are more pleasant than those associated with attending baseball games at Parker Field. I began going to the games with my grandfather when I was about 7. Naturally, we pulled for the pinstripe-clad V’s, the home team. I eagerly drank in all I could of the atmosphere, especially the stories told about legendary players and discussions on the strategy of the game.
As I got older I began to go with my friends, most of whom played baseball. We usually took our baseball gloves with us to the game. We’d go early so we could watch the V’s warm up. As often as possible we talked with the players. If one of them remembered your name it was a source of pride.
A highlight of each spring was the day the New York Yankees came to town to play the V’s, who were part of the Yankees’ farm system. It was a geographically convenient stop for the Bronx Bombers because they were on their way North from their Florida spring training camp. Thus, this dress rehearsal game would always take place just before opening day.
Consequently, I saw Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and the other great Yankees of the late ’50s and early ’60s play in Richmond.
In those days, baseball was clearly the most important thing in life to me and that meant Parker Field was like a temple. When we cheered the heroics we witnessed, and rose for the seventh inning stretch, and stayed until the last out regardless of the score, it was tantamount to exercising religious rites.
A few seasons before they tore Parker Field down (it was dismantled in 1984 and in its place stands The Diamond), I experienced one last thrill at the old ballpark. This was when my daughter, Katey, was about 7 or 8.
The home team by then — as it is now — was The Braves. Katey, her mother, and I were sitting in box seats as guests of neighbors who had gotten comps from a radio station. It was Katey’s first trip to Parker Field.
The spectacle itself was interesting to her for a while. As it was a night game, the bright lights were dazzling. The roar of the crowd was exhilarating. Being old enough to go along on such an outing, instead of staying at home with a baby sitter, was a boost to her morale. Nonetheless, by the middle of the game Katey was getting tired of sitting still and bored with baseball.
During the sixth inning it fell to me to entertain, or at least restrain her, so the others could enjoy the game. I tried telling her more about the object of baseball, hoping that would help her pay some attention to the game.
That didn’t work for very long. She was soon climbing across seats again and this time she knocked a man’s beer into his lap. As the visiting team began their turn at bat, in the top of the seventh, I got an idea and asked Katey if she wanted to see some magic. Of course she did.
Then I got her to promise to be good if I showed her a big magic trick. She agreed to the terms without qualification. Making sure she alone could hear me, I pulled her in close and whispered my instructions. (more…)