Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd...

And they did…

I am married to and related to people who take great delight in arranging surprise birthday celebrations. Knowing this, I decided to head them off, this year, by saying I wanted to go to a baseball game – the local High A team The Hillsboro Hops.

As per usual, the joke was on me… My thought was we’d buy the tickets and whatever food and beverages the folks wanted. Simple and basic.

Victor, of course, had other plans…

He took care of the arrangements and decided to go for the MVP Birthday Package. Okay, it’s my birthday… go for it.  It sounded great until I heard him discussing it on the phone with the event coordinator…

It came with:

  • Food and Beverage Credits for each ticket
  • Birthday Cake
  • Ball signed by the Team
  • Name on the message board…

all of which was fine. And then I heard:

  • Throw out the first pitch.

My first reaction was – loudly, while he was on the phone – I’m not throwing out a [insert expletive here] ball.

My second reaction – when I realized I was throwing out the first pitch – was despair. I really hate being the center of attention – and throwing out a first pitch is pretty much the ultimate in being center of attention.

Give me a hole, let me crawl in and die.

Fortunately, my nephew, Bill, took pity on me and we did some practicing. Let’s face it – star athlete, I am not.

So… out to the mound we went. Standing there, I hear “Let’s give it up for Viet Nam Veteran Tim Dineen celebrating his 69th birthday with us, today.”

There was the roar of the crowd, and I prayed for the earth to open and swallow me. It didn’t happen, so I threw the damned ball.

It was painful, but I got through it. And the rest of the day was pure fun.

We had the new twins show up for their very first baseball game and the Hops beat the Tri City Dust Devils 10 – 2. It was pretty sweet.

Another cool thing was we were there for one of several “Soñadores de Hillsboro” games, where the team sports a different logo representing the Hispanic community. It’s great to see real outreach into the community.

First pitches, aside, it was a great day. We all had a total blast and a fun day in the sun.

And if you have a minor league team near by, I highly recommend going to a few games. They are fun.

And next year?!? I could see us at the ballpark with the family, again… But I think I’ll pass on the MVP Package…