Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
There are times when a feeling hits me, and I take it upon myself to attempt to use my words to paint a picture of what I see, and what I am feeling. Sometimes that can pose a challenge all on its own. Often, you end up simply saying, “You just had to be there.” I find myself now in one of those types of situations. Last Friday evening, I was at the Madison County High School baseball game. That, in and of itself, is no big deal. But somehow, this evening had a certain “feel” to it.
Here I was, in a small town, at a baseball game. There were older men sitting in the VIP section (reserved for local veterans). The smell of hot dogs and hamburgers cooking on the grill wafted through the air. The popping sound of baseball hitting leather added to the atmosphere. The gentle breeze made the familiar “Stars and Stripes” ripple as the sounds of the National Anthem filled the air. The solemn respect on the faces of those in the VIP section made it clear that this was not “just another tune” or a mindless habit undertaken before such events as a baseball game. In the gathered crowd were people of all ages. Youngsters ran around, more interested in making their own game than paying attention to the older athletes out on the baseball diamond. Families of the young players on the field were on hand to cheer on the home team. Young couples were there for a “date night,” possibly because the high school Friday night baseball game was the closest thing to an “event” going on.
Perhaps there's some truth in that. In literally hundreds of small towns, many not unlike Madison, the high school Friday night baseball game is the closest thing to an “event” going on. In those hundreds of small towns, veterans are standing with solemn respect as the National Anthem is played. One can smell the hamburgers and hot dogs cooking on the grill. Young couples are out for a “date night.” The pop of baseballs hitting leather permeates the air.
In my life, I have had the chance to visit many small towns across this nation. I have also visited and lived in big cities. I can assure you, in the big cities, the local high school Friday night baseball game is not the closest thing to an “event” going on. Given a choice, I'll take the small town, Friday night high school baseball “event” every time.
If ever there was a feeling or description for the word “Americana,” it would be that Friday night high school baseball game. Somehow, I don't think my words on this page have quite adequately described fully the feeling I had at that high school baseball game last Friday night. “You just had to be there.”