Tornadoes tore through the Midwest in the early hours of April 1, 2023. Following the reports on my Dad’s iphone, the four of us pulled on shoes and wrapped ourselves in blankets to head down to the basement. Barely more than a potato cellar with bare beams on the ceiling and dirt on the floor, we were squished on folding chairs between Santa lawn decorations, old kitchen appliances, and the cat litter boxes. While my six-year-old brother peppered my Mom with questions about tornadoes, I could only think of one thing: Would the Cincinnati Reds game be postponed that day?
It wasn’t. The morning was sunny and warm in Indiana as we headed to Kids’ Opening Day at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. We parked on the Ohio River across from the ballpark and started across the street, my dad and I hotly debating why TJ Friedl wasn’t batting first that day. I carried my mitt for possible foul balls coming my way, and sported the sunglasses that made me look just like Jonathan India if you used your imagination to add curly shoulder length hair and a lot of tattoos. While I wore my “Big Greene Machine” t-shirt, I carried my Mr. Red sweatshirt under my arm. Halfway across the street, a huge gust of wind off the river hit our backs and carried the sweatshirt onto the ground and along a straight path to the gaping wide mouth of the storm drain. We all stood there in horror as groups of fans kept walking around us. First a tornado warning and now a lost sweatshirt. But nothing was going to stop us from the game.
Our family is a baseball family. What this means is that when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees by the second inning and winds reached over fifty miles an hour, we stayed. We wrapped my brother in my mother’s coat and bought a fleece blanket for sweatshirt-less me in the team store. We watched Jonathan India bomb a homerun in the 3rd, TJ Friendl steal third base in the 5th, and Jake Fraley crushed a three-run homerun in the 8th. I could barely feel my hands as I dug elbow deep into the huge bag of caramel popcorn but there was no place I could rather be. But the rest of the family started to flag by the 6th inning as we watched groups and groups of families leave with chattering teeth. At the bottom of the 8th, my dad said, “We could leave….?” and my mother and brother nodded excitedly. “No!” I gasped. And we stayed.
Our family is a baseball family.
My dad taught me to love baseball. He was taught by his grandma and grandpa. My great grandparents were big Reds fans. At every game Great Grandma would pull a pencil from her purse to keep track of the game on a scorecard that she always would always buy before the Reds game at riverfront stadium. Great Grandpa would talk to my dad and his friend about what was happening on the field. Dad marveled at how Grandma could call a homerun long before he was sure. Great Grandpa explained how when a player hits a ball there is a sound, and “if they barrel the ball” it is a particular sound that tells you the ball is gone.