Reflections on an All-American Day

Reflections on an All-American Day

As you guys may have realized from my recent blog posts, I love baseball and am a huge Boston Red Sox fan. So when I realized they would be playing at Camden Yards in Baltimore the weekend of the 24-26, I jumped to get tickets to go see them play. So, this past Saturday (April 25) my girlfriend and I hopped on a MARC train at Union Station and headed for Baltimore, MD.

 

Taking in a baseball game is one of my favorite things to do in the world. Baseball is commonly referred to as America's pastime. Although the game is played globally, there are few things as American as a baseball game, complete with The Star Spangled Banner, American Beer, and hot dogs. I enjoy every aspect of baseball, from the play of the game to the vendors that come through the stands, each with their own sale's pitch and snack/beverage. I love the smells of a game and the beauty of a baseball field.

 

Even before Saturday, I had heard great things about Camden Yards. Although it is no Fenway Park, it did not disappoint. The field was beautiful. The stadium is huge and has a really cool area near Center Field that is open where you can hang out and have a drink, and also has markers from where past Home Run balls have landed. To top it off, I had one of the best sausage and peppers sandwiches of my life (even if the service could have been a bit better).


Beautiful Camden Yards

 

As for the game itself, it was quite eventful. Saturday was not the most beautiful day for baseball though. It was chilly and even began raining in about the 8th inning. The Sox found themselves in an early 2-0 hole after the first inning but tied it up in the second. Heading into the 9th, the Red Sox were down 3-2 but rallied to come back and force extra innings. They even took the lead on a home run in the top of the 10th just to give it up in the bottom of the inning and eventually lose 5-4 in 10 innings. However, the baseball game itself was just one part of the adventure that was Baltimore.

 

Before we had left for the game, I received a text message from my roommate who was also in Baltimore. The message warned of the possibility of protests that had the potential of turning violent throughout the city due to a recent incident involving the Baltimore City police. The protests in Baltimore revolved around a man, Freddie Gray, who during his arrest suffered a major spinal injury that eventually resulted in his death.

 

On our way to the stadium, we hopped on a light rail that was supposed to take us from Baltimore Penn Station directly to Camden Yards. However, at the stop before Camden, the conductor announced this would be the last stop. The tracks ahead were blocked by protesters in the street. My girlfriend and I, along with others trying to get to the game, got off the train and starting moving towards the stadium. Up ahead there was a large group of people, with some sporadic protesters up near where the train had stopped. We turned off the street to avoid the main group of protesters. On many streets heading toward the stadium, there stood citizens holding signs protesting the death of Mr. Gray silently. Some street corners were also occupied by the police, ensuring fans on the way to the stadium were safe. When we got to the front of the stadium, there were about 50 police standing there in riot gear, seemingly prepared in case the protests made a turn for the worst. Camden Yards only had three gates open in the far corner of the stadium, as far from the protests as possible. Once inside the stadium, the juxtaposition of the baseball game and what was happening outside was eerie. The contrast was really epitomized when a group of children sang the Star-Spangled as Helicopters flew above the stadium and sirens were heard from outside its gates. It was a scene that felt like it was out of a movie.

 

In addition to the strange contrast between inside and outside the ballpark, before the game ended, during the 9th inning, all the fans were asked to stay inside the ballpark due to an "on-going public safety issue." Police closed and guarded the gates as we stood and waited with a crowd of patrons, wondering when we would be able to leave as the game moved into extra innings. When all was said and done, the gates were closed for probably 30-40 minutes. Once they were opened, the game had not yet ended. It was in the bottom of the 10th. While many fans were angered that we were forced to stay inside the stadium, I am thankful that the city of Baltimore and their police department took such actions to guarantee our safety.

 

As I said above, there are few things more American than baseball. Well, so are protesting and standing up for one's rights. Our country gained its independence and became what it is today through protest and revolt and that tradition lives on today, to stand up and shout when the status quo is simply not good enough. The history of protests in our country has often brought about a great deal of societal change for the better. With that being said, the destruction in Baltimore and the death of Freddie Gray are both terribly sad. I can only hope that some good will come out of what is occurring in Baltimore.

 

I cannot pretend to understand the whole situation. All I can offer are my prayers for peace and reflections on what I was witnessed. As always, thanks for reading.

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