It was the first week of March. For days, storms had poured out inches of rain. But the clouds were now gone and the sky was blue. It was a warm sunny day in southern California. I had just turned 41, and after a dozen years of marriage, I was, for the first time, a father. We were in the process of adopting Colin, who has lived with us since he was born a couple of days before Christmas.
I was returning to the office from an appointment when I decided to swing by Dodger Stadium. I drove through the deserted parking lot and past the teams of gardeners readying the stadium for the season. I parked the car and walked into the Dodger gift shop, located at the top of the stadium. Once inside, I looked past the Dodger T-shirts, past the souvenir bats and gloves, past the Dodger jackets, hats, and helmets, past all the posters and pictures, and past the giant foam “K”s that fans wave when Nomo pitches.
Then I saw the object of my search-onesies. I bolted straight for the far wall. It was covered with little bitty shirts, dresses, caps, and uniforms-all Dodgers, of course. I quickly spotted the winner-a white jumpsuit with the Dodger’s logo sewn in blue and red script on the left chest. I carefully picked out a size 3 to 6 months and headed for the cash register. “So you have a little Dodger at home?” the sales lady asked me. “Well, yes I do,” I proudly responded. “He’s just two months old and this will be his first baseball season.”
She smiled and said that I might consider a 6 to 12 months just to give him room to grow and promptly went to find the next size up. I held the two garments side by side, and puzzled over which would be better. They were both so tiny. I picked the bigger size, paid for my prize, and walked out of the store. As I walked out of the gift shop I wandered over toward the seats, high above the playing field, and peeked out over the field. From the very top of the stadium, I could almost smell the green grass of the field below. I watched as workers tended to the outfield and infield and the brown/ red dirt framing it all. I scanned the empty stadium. Only sunshine and a quiet breeze brushed up against me.
I flashed back to when I’d seen my first ball game-at this very stadium. I was probably younger than ten, but I remember the overwhelming size of the stadium, the crowds of people, the pillowy white bases, the green grass, and the players that I saw far below me. I saved the tickets to that game and still have them. They were green in color, and my folks had won them in a supermarket drawing. I studied the stadium and decided that I had seen my first game while sitting in the blue reserved section high above the first base line. I glanced back along the third base line, then out toward the bleachers, and I knew that the stadium looked different. It was different. Wonderfully different. Today, I was a father thinking of my son.
Reluctantly I turned away from the field and headed for the car. Once back in the car, I took my prize out of the bag and looked at it. It bore the Dodger logo that has been so familiar to me since I was a little boy. And it was so small. I thought of my little boy at home; still too small even to fit into this suit. I pictured him and me in the rocking chair, a bottle, a burp cloth, his little Dodger jumpsuit, and Vin Scully on the radio. He and I will listen to the games together. And one day, I will take him to the ball game just as I was taken to my first game.
I was overcome by tears. I have waited a long time for this. A very long time.