Last ball game of the year

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Arvest Ballpark
Arvest Ballpark, the Naturals’ home field, in Springdale, Arkansas.

Last night went to my third Northwest Arkansas Naturals’ ball game of the year, for the second time with friend Russell. His wife and mine both abhor baseball, or are bored to death with it, and like to see us go out and not get into too much mischief. (Hanging on the street corner, for example, with switchblades or guns.)

Another lovely evening, though awfully still. Until about the fifth inning there was hardly a breath of air. The flags hung limply on their center field poles, though the fans’ hopes quickened in the bottom of the first when the Naturals scored two runs to take the lead 2-1.

The final score was 7-4, Naturals, the highlight being a sixth-inning two-run homer by our catcher that hit the foul pole in left field. The home plate umpire ruled the ball foul at first, but was overridden or dissuaded by the other two umps … and the Naturals’ manager, who came charging out of the dugout at the call.

Russell and I didn’t keep score. (How many do these days?) Our eyes loped along, from our excellent perch behind home plate, taking in the slow and then quick spectacle. Our mouths took in beer as an antidote to the stillness of the air and the sometime slowness of the game.

In fact, though R’s wife Diane had fed us before the game, at their usual happy hour in the driveway (wine, beer, and in this case a gigantic pie, with sausage and spinach — a quiche on steroids), we snacked too during the game. R ordered nachos, and I thieved a bag of peanuts from under the seat of the fans just in front of us. (Well, hey, the bag was just lying there even before the game. When I saw four fans file back into their seats, I dropped the bag under the seats again; but no one touched it for five innings, so I grabbed it again and R and I gobbled a goodly number of goobers, scattering the shells around us.)

I had to leave two innings before the end to pick up another friend at the airport. But I entrusted Russ with the victory, and like a good reliever this fine guy and admirable baseball fan came through.

Three games attended this year, as I say, and three glorious victories!

Ho hum. What to do during the off season? How now can we reclaim the fluid rhythms, quick and slow, of life the pastoral?

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