We’re finally getting off the freeway at “Stadium Way,” making the last haul up the hill to Dodger stadium. “We’re here!” Aaron yells as he puts on his baseball hat and grabs his glove. As we get out of the car, you can hear the fans in the stands cheering on the players while they practice, and Aaron’s face lights up. “Come on, let’s go!” he shouts. We anxiously grab each other’s hands and head toward the stadium. Aaron has always found joy at Dodger Stadium, and the two of us have created many wonderful memories together there.
There are a few things I must explain to you about Aaron, my son. Although he’s only three years old, he is wise beyond his years. He was a very sweet, sensitive and respectful child that everyone wanted to be around. His light blonde hair was tucked under his blue baseball cap that he wore almost every day; the cap matched his beautiful blue eyes perfectly. He always wore the same stained jersey to the games, and at home; he thought he was Bennie the Jet from the movie The Sandlot. Aaron really understands sports, better than I did actually. When we would get to the game, all that mattered were the players on the field getting on base or making it to home plate.
Now for you to understand my son, once he sits in his seat, he is completely hooked onto the game. At Dodger Stadium, Aaron and I experienced a hundred cheers of excitement, and also groans of disappointment. From the close winning tie games, to even being knocked out of playoffs, there are so many emotions going on through everyone in the stadium. The vendor makes his way up and down the aisle, leaving a fresh smell of popcorn and hotdogs, offering snacks for people to enjoy while watching the game. All the fans are tense, waiting to see what happens next, cheering for their favorite player to make it home and to put another point up on the board. Once the bat makes contact with the fast pitched ball you can hear the loud crack, and the player is off to first base. Out of the corner of my eye I can hear Aaron cheering them on to make it to home plate. Meanwhile, the other fans in the stadium are jumping up and down out of anticipation to see how far the player can make it, giving high fives once he is safe on base with the loud announcer shouting play by play. Everyone’s up on their feet, clapping and stomping their shoes to cheer their team on, we can feel the energy throughout the stadium.
In order for you to understand Aaron’s frame of mind when we are there, I should tell you his basic rules of the game:
- Always show good sportsman ship to your team, opposing team and fans.
- Be involved with the crowd. This means that when everyone is doing the wave, we do the wave; chant with everyone when they say “Let’s go Dodgers!”
- Have fun! That’s the most important rule, I believe, in any sport wheather you win or lose.
One of the last games our family went to with Aaron was probably the most memorable. It was when his favorite player, Manny Ramirez was in the outfield with Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Sitting in the outfield, the sun was about to set lighting up the sky above the field with all different shades of pink, and the air started to chill which made you want to zip up your sweater. In between the innings, the players practiced among themselves by throwing and catching the ball. When the next inning is about to start, they stare into the stands to see which fan is hoping to catch it more than the rest. This time it was Aaron. As we were walking down the aisle to get a famous Dodger dog, Kemp threw the ball Aaron’s way. Granted he was too short to catch it, so his dad, Kris, stretched out his long arm in the air and caught it, “You got it! You got it dad!” Aaron shouted with joy as he was trying to jump and get the ball from Kris. After getting our dodger dog and popcorn, we made our way back to the seats where some of our neighboring fans began to ask Aaron about the ball.
“Are you going to try and get him to sign it?” “Is that the ball you caught slugger,” with all the questions Aaron felt as if he were a part of the team.
As he turned to the couple behind us to acknowledge their question, he sees a man in the far back of the bleachers with the Manny wig of long black dreads “There he is! There’s Manny Ramirez!” Apparently he didn’t notice the other 5,000 plus fans with the same wig.
This is how I picture my son when I think of him, happy, and excited to be at the game singing the seventh inning stretch “Don’t Stop Believing.” I have a picture of him on my right shoulder that we took of him at the last game he went to three days before he passed away, and placed it overlooking Dodger Stadium, so he’s always watching a game at his happy place.