Press Box Seals
Walked into the Jake a few weeks back, first time in my life. Took a seat beside my 13-year-old daughter way up the leftfield line, high above the hometown Indians and the visiting Yanks. Settled in, just beginning to relish the ballgame, the sounds, the smells and the cityscape beyond the outfield wall when rain began to fall, and my daughter pointed behind home plate to the seats behind the plate glass. "Is that the press box?" she asked.
"Can you take me in there?"
I had no umbrella. I had no decent argument. I took her in.
Her eyes went wide at the silence inside, at the big TV sets, the dry, wide seats and all the elbow space between them. At the private dining room and the hazelnut cake being rolled on a cart down the hallway by a woman dressed in formal serving attire. "This is where I'm going to work," she declared. "Don't you think it's so much better watching from here?"
I opened my mouth. Opened it to tell her how privileged I too once felt to enter this sanctum, how powerful as I ate free cheesecake and looked down on the sunburned scum. How one-up on the world I felt sitting behind the glass, my ears unmolested by the annoying crack of the bat and cry of the beer man. Where I'd never jump, holding my head and screaming in amazement over the play the shortstop made deep in the hole, because that's a Press Box Decorum Violation, or laugh at the cynical wit of the guy at my elbow, because open guffaws are clear-cut PBDVs too. Where I'd never have to figure out a single statistic, because another forest had been felled to provide enough pulp for another 21-year-old intern-my daughter in eight years?-to dispense yet another sheet of paper letting me know Rob Ducey's average in the month of June against lefthanded pitchers with names ending in vowels, or that the skipper had just informed the press conference downstairs, "This was a game when our young guys really had to step up, and they sure did."
I opened my mouth, but no words came out. Because already we were back outside, sitting in the drizzle on top of soggy, folded-up newspapers, wishing we'd brought rain slickers and sweaters.
Gimme the nosebleeders. Gimme the rabble passing change for the fat guy's peanuts at the end of the row and never in the history of baseball—you could look it up—filching even a dime. Because up there, where you're sitting a half mile from home plate under a microwave sun, there's this camaraderie that grips you, this we're-all-in-this-together feeling. All right, maybe you can't see whether the pinch runner's left hand touched the bag as he was hook-sliding into third, but the feeling up there is better than seeing. Besides, not seeing allows everyone to rant and riot about everything without a lick of evidence to back it up.