Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Minor league ball, major league dreams

The original goal of the Frontier League was to bring professional baseball to locations that could never possibly attract a major league affiliated ball club. Independent league baseball has recently been the target of frustration and ridicule among my colleagues and I, but there was something about being at GCS Park, home to the Gateway Grizzlies, that brought it all together. As I gazed upon the St. Louis skyline beyond the first baseline bleachers, my eyes drifted down to a family of five sitting a few rows behind me. I could see the excitement in the young boy's eyes. I also could see the burden in his father's eyes from a long, hard 40 hour week of labor in the hot, humid Mississippi River valley air. I could tell this family simply did not have the means to cross the river and attend a Cardinals games. But why should this young boy and his family be denied the opportunity to watch a live baseball game in person? The green grass. The roar of the crowd. The smell of the hotdogs and popcorn. All add to the package that can only be experienced in person. That young boy probably will not get to attend many games in his lifetime, but he will remember the games he did attend. So I guess it's best for him to attend a Frontier League game than no game at all.

The very next night, my dad took my family of five to a Cardinals game. Our seats were in the Redbird Club section directly below the broadcasters booths behind homeplate. The Redbird Club was exclusive with its own air-conditioned bar, catering, and food much nicer than your average ballpark food. Dad bought us all the food and drink we wanted. I never asked him how much the tickets cost and I cant comprehend how much money he spent. Sometime during the seventh inning stretch I thought of the family I saw at Gateway and I was thankful to be where I was in Busch Stadium. I was also thankful for what the Frontier League provided for those less fortunate than me.

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