Wednesday, June 6: ASTROS 7, MARINERS 5
I told some of the Lilianna saga on Instagram yesterday but I had a chance to add more to it this afternoon. I just finished watching the Cardinals beat the hapless Marlins 4-1 before an enthusiastic and sweltering home crowd (home teams are now 6-1 in games I’ve attended, which means good things for the Reds tomorrow night). I’m sitting in the St. Louis Public Library now, sort of getting caught up; last night after the Astros game I had a choice between writing and doing laundry for the first time. My odor suggested it was time for laundry. I had another fascinating encounter (at least, fascinating to me) at Busch Stadium just now, with someone at the other end of the age spectrum from Lilianna. I’ll try to post that one tonight or tomorrow.
Anyway, here’s my story of Lilianna:
Tonight is day six of #tenstadiumstendays and it’s a spectacularly beautiful evening in Houston. I spent a grand total of 37 minutes in the air on the flight from Dallas, and then just about twice that long on a bus from the airport to the ballpark. But it was worth it, as I had my absolute favorite conversation companion of the whole trip (and honestly, there have been a LOT of great ones!). While walking over to the ballpark from the bus stop I met Lilianna, an adorable kindergarten who was at the game with her parents and her sister.
As the five of us waited together for a light to change I started chatting with her dad about his Felix Hernandez jersey; the family is from nearby Sugar Land but dad is a Mariners fan from his time spent living in the Pacific Northwest. After he and I got to talking, Lilianna, perhaps thinking I was a family friend, immediately walked toward me and started holding my hand.
She wouldn’t let go of it for the entire five block walk to the stadium. “I’m very friendly,” Lilianna told me. “That’s true,” her parents told me.
At first I just assumed it was one of those things that all kids do from time to time, where they grab the hand of the nearest adult, thinking it’s their own parent, and then immediately recoil in horror once they realize it’s some random person unrelated to them. Not the case with Lilianna, though; she looked me square in the eye and was absolutely certain that we should be holding hands while crossing each street. “So…uhh…you’re gonna hold my hand then, huh?” I asked. “Umm…yes, of course,” she said definitively. Her parents were trying to hold back smiles and were cool with it to the point where it seemed clear that their daughter made a habit of holding hands with people who aren’t them. I like their parenting style, quite honestly. Giving kids a chance to interact with other people is a good thing.
At any rate, for the rest of our journey toward the park, I got a running commentary of what was important in Lilianna’s life: “Tomorrow’s the last day of school and I’m in kindergarten but not for long. I’m going to swim a lot this summer, but not in our own pool because my dog tore it up. His name is Bo Buttsniffer and he always sniffs Belle’s butt. Belle is our other dog. They’re both black labs.” I managed to get in a few random replies, things that I considered significant contributions to the conversation (“Hey, guess what? My daughter plays baseball and SHE IS ON THE ASTROS!”, “Hey guess what? My wife teaches kindergarten!”, “Hey, you really call your dog Bo Buttsniffer? That’s kinda weird,” you know, stuff like that), but the dialogue was clearly being controlled by Lilianna. Her parents’ never-ending smirks let me know that this was not surprising either.
When we finally arrived at the stadium gates it was time to say goodbye, and Lilianna’s parents asked to snap a few photos of the two of us. I have no doubt that the family had a heck of a time at the game.
I’m officially a city behind on the blog but it’ll get caught up. Don’t you worry! (I’m pretty sure you’re not worried!)
If you would like to get emailed updates when I post a new blog entry, you can do that and also read the previous ones at tenstadiumstendays.com. Thanks for reading!
The best part of this trip, and there’ve been a lot of cool aspects, has been the people. What I love about baseball is that it has the ability to bring people together, and it seems to bring out the friendly in just about everyone. Football is great but I’m not sure it has this same affect. Soccer is…well, I’m not a huge fan or anything…but even if you LIKE it, it doesn’t seem to have the same power. It might be partially that the season is so long, or that so many people at the ballpark are there because it’s so pleasant to be there, but baseball is different from other sports that way. The pace and structure of the game itself make it way different from any other sport. But that’s not the only difference. There’s something magical in a ballpark.
PREVIOUS GAME: @Texas Rangers vs. Oakland A’s
NEXT GAME: @St. Louis Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins
MILES TRAVELED TO GET HERE: 273
MILES TRAVELED TO THIS POINT: 5775