By Bradley Robertson
When I set out to choose our festivities for the 4th of July, the usual came to mind. We could go to the lake, perhaps a cookout or maybe meet our family at the beach. However, this year I yearned for something different, something totally all American to set this holiday apart form the rest. I wanted a moment in time to stop our clocks and share something great and nostalgic with my family. The answer, baseball.
I wanted to walk into the stadium hand in hand with my kids to experience it for their first time. I wanted hotdogs and popcorn and “Take me out to the ballgame…”. My husband wanted an ice-cold beer on tap and that was enough to make me smile.
We are fortunate to find this perfect set up close to home in Riverwalk Stadium, host of the Montgomery Biscuits, playing in their 15th season as a Southern minor league baseball team.
When I first told my kids, “Momma got us tickets to the Biscuits!” they were completely confused. “Is this a place we go to dinner?” my littlest son asked. This kid loves a biscuit, I’m certain he didn’t care where we were going, as long as a biscuit was included.
My older children immediately asked if daddy was going. This is a vital piece to our family puzzle. If dad isn’t present, it’s just not as much fun as being solo with mom. I gave them visions of a fun, new experience and they jumped on my baseball train, headed for Montgomery.
We booked a room at the Renaissance hotel to add some extra fun to our family adventure. The Renaissance is a block away from Riverwalk Stadium, making it the perfect fit for out of town guests. We dressed in any red, white and blue attire we could find, to capture that great family photo in honor of our night together.
We walked our one block to our destination and together, all five of us, hand in hand, under the hot sunlight, entered an American dream. My kids each held up their own tickets to be scanned by the nice old lady under an old brick concourse. She greeted them with a gentle smile and so began our night in history.
To my youngest son’s surprise, the first thing he saw was a food stand full of a biscuits. Sausage biscuits, bacon biscuits and the southern fried chicken biscuit. He hit the jack pot his first steps in. He gobbled up two chicken biscuits and we set off to find our seats.
We hit the jack pot again, or better yet “we hit a homerun” when we found our seats just 12 rows behind homeplate. The players were on field practicing and fans were seen across the stadium, food and drinks in hand, preparing for the evening ahead.
One thing I noticed from the beginning was all the different makes and models of people. Elderly folks with canes and wheelchairs, babies, wiggly toddlers, teenage girls in tank tops, young boys with their own gloves, hoping to catch a fly ball. Parents and grandparents galore.
One thing that struck me was everyone I saw was happy and no one was in a hurry. It was as if walking in that stadium, time actually began to stand still. The busy of life disappeared.
The time came for our National Anthem, presented with the color guard. My husband and I grinned and led our children in saluting our country, along with hundreds of other Americans. It was beautiful and overwhelming. Proof that we are not always a country torn by politics and opinions, but that we can put all that aside and enjoy something together. I began to wonder, isn’t this why baseball is here today?
Didn’t a bunch of men begin to play the game to find joy and solace in a perhaps an unsteady world?
When baseball became popular, it was adored by fans of all ages for its excitement and yet relaxing atmosphere. This is where my family stood, the excitement of what’s ahead and rest from the rush of the world outside.
We ate all food imaginable, Dippin-Dots, barbecue, hotdogs, popcorn, nachos and Coca-Cola. My husband and I were lucky enough to be seated right next to the Alabama brewery cart. We were greeted by the most generous human with a big smile offering tastings from Alabama breweries. He offered us a raspberry beer by TrimTab in Birmingham. It was our own slugger of the night and we joyfully indulged.
There is nothing that compares to cold beer on tap in a baseball stadium on a hot summer night.
I loved every minute of what was around us. The eagerness of the players and coaches. My oldest son asking questions, so enthralled he didn’t get out of his seat the whole game.
I loved seeing my daughter climb into her fathers lap to be close to him, gazing together at the action on the field. I loved how my little son was so attracted to the young bat boy. “Who’s that little kid? Is he my age?”
I was taken back when the crowd began to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” gazing at my children and smiling with my husband, amazed at this great moment in time we had found.
Our evening was capped off with a Biscuits win and a fireworks celebration. We sat back in our seats in the dark night and watched the sky light up with colors of red and blue and splashes of gold. This baseball, this American game, is magical, every piece of it, from the people that attend to the players tossing the ball around on the field and the gentlemen serving beer in vintage aprons. It is a game every family from the young to the old can be a part of.
It was baseball legend Lou Gehrig who said, “today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” My family and I agreed, being part of that baseball game made us feel like the luckiest family on the face of the earth.
Bradley Robertson is a local mother, wife and creative. She’s an Auburn University graduate, loves good food and getting outside with her family. Bradley enjoys feature writing, as well as southern culture and lifestyle writing.