Take Me Out To The Ballpark At Arlington

©1994 by Spider Johnson

(June 10, 1994, 7:24p., in the stands, north side.)
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Upon first sight of the field, suddenly, arriving at the end of the ramp, I am struck by the beautiful pure starkness of the empty expanse of brown and green, much larger and cleaner than I expected. It is a deep, rich red-brown, neatly raked and spotless, as earth-tone rich as the carefully-clipped grass is bright green. This perfect simple texture is framed by a bobbing, psychedelic pastiche of faces, hats, shirts and snacks. An expensive portrait. The strum of the crowd is occasionally punctuated by a rallying practice blast from the home team's trumpeter. The bouquet of beer, pizza and popcorn fill my nostrils. At 45 years old, my first-ever visit to a professional baseball game begins.

The game starts, and the players invade the pristine pasture with such natural grace that it does not otherwise seem out of place. As the sun gives way to dusk, gusts invigorate the parquet of flags, and the commencing stadium lights maintain the striking, pure dominating green of the playing field, while neon advertisements compete with the busy players for my attention. The sun's last rays transform the stadium's red iron trusswork into stripes of gold, and are mirrored off the 40-foot Coca-Cola bottle score sign. The pure evening sky blue is also framed by this trussed stadium rim, an unblemished oval viewscreen for the occasional DFW jetliner and a parade of banner-pulling Citabria light aircraft. It's a beautiful sight.

I watch with bemused curiosity, neither fan nor foe, as if I had been dropped from a UFO into the midst of a peculiarly focussed ritual. It's all strange and new to me. Even when the players strike out, their movement is as ballet-graceful as their base hits, swift striding, sure-footed and bold as lions, lithe and willowy as deer. They are performers royale; yet without us, their athletic choreography would merely be hollow posturing for each other. Indeed, we need each other for this holy American pageant, ball player and witness, a morality play of wholesome fantasy, where winners are secondary to just seeing it happen.